Each divorce has its own set of challenges, and couples with a large number of assets often face several difficulties associated with their high net-worth. More assets in a divorce can lead to several other complications, and it could make the entire divorce process lengthier and more stressful. In addition to issues associated with asset division, wealthier couples might run into other financial upsets associated with their divorce.
Find out what challenges high net-worth couples often face during a divorce so that you can make sure you are doing everything you can to protect yourself.
Defending Your Finances
Once you and your spouse have made the decision to move forward with a divorce, take some time to take stock of your finances. You want to make sure you know what accounts, investments, and properties your spouse has access to. Anyone should do this at the start of a divorce, but folks with a significant amount of assets should be extra vigilant because they have more assets to keep an eye on. In most situations, it is best to have a financial advisor or accountant to keep watch over your accounts for you. If your spouse attempts to take out a large sum from one of your accounts, or if they attempt to make other significant financial changes, you should be aware of it.
Also, you should have your own accounts once you decide to divorce. Just in case your spouse decides to do something deceptive with your finances, its best to protect yourself by opening your own bank accounts and credit cards that are in your name only. By opening your own accounts, you can prevent your spouse from tampering with your money. Having your own private accounts also gives you more privacy—you do not want your spouse monitoring your expenses and bringing up your spending habits before a judge.
Dealing with Hidden Assets
At the start of the divorce process, each party is required to present a document to the court with a complete record of the funds and assets they own. This includes marital property owned by both parties during the marriage and separate property, like heirlooms and inheritances owned by one spouse individually. If either party lies on this financial document and tries to hide certain assets from the court and from their spouse, they could face serious legal consequences. Hiding assets is akin to lying to the court, which could be considered a criminal offense. In some situations, you might even be found in contempt of court for trying to hide assets.
If your spouse gets away with lying, they could rob you of certain assets that might otherwise have been given to you. In order to avoid this type of deception, make sure you hire the appropriate legal team to protect your rights.
If you suspect your spouse may be hiding assets, your attorney can work with financial experts, like forensic accountants, to identify any hidden assets and present evidence to the court.
Preparing for Property Division
Property division is always one of the more difficult aspects of any divorce, but with high-asset couples, this step can be particularly grueling. Simply put, couples with more assets have more to divide, which makes the property division last even longer. High net-worth couples might also have complex properties, assets, and investments that are difficult to divide, which can make things more problematic and contentious.
In any case, when you have a large number of assets, its best to prepare for this stage of your divorce extensively by discussing your options with your attorney and deciding which assets are a priority to you. Assess your properties and tell your attorney what you absolutely must keep, that way they can prioritize those assets during the negotiations.