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Meeting the Challenges of a High-Net-Worth Divorce

Divorce can be difficult in any circumstances and even more so where a couple has considerable wealth. A high-net-worth divorce — one in which assets of more than $1 million are at stake — presents complex issues relating to property division and spousal support. If you are in this situation, an attorney who is experienced in high-net-worth cases can work out solutions that effectively protect your interests.

High-net-worth divorces generally involve couples that have more than one source of income and that own valuable properties and complex investment portfolios. These assets may include:

  • Business ownership — When either spouse or both own shares in a closely held business, the value must be assessed. Since these shares are not sold publicly, a business valuation expert will be needed to determine their fair market value. Usually both spouses hire business valuation experts, who may come to different assessments that must then be reconciled.
  • Real estate holdings — Wealthy couples often own multiple parcels of real estate. An appraisal must consider a property’s potential for appreciation. The property may have one value as it is currently used and a different value if it were to be improved or converted to a different use.
  • Retirement funds and corporate benefits — Pension funds, 401ks and other retirement benefits present special valuation issues, as do stock options, shareholder buyouts and severance packages. These funds have both present and projected future values that can be subject to differing assessments depending on the methods used.
  • Fine art, jewelry and luxury items — Personal property of high value must be professionally appraised and may have to be sold to ensure each spouse receives a fair share.
  • Inheritances and gifts — Either spouse may have received gifts or inheritances during the marriage. These may be subject to asset division if they have been commingled with marital property or used for common purposes.
  • Offshore or hidden assets — Another layer of complexity may be encountered if either spouse attempts to hide property or revenue or places funds in offshore accounts. Forensic accountants may need to be hired to find these assets and streams of income.

In addition, high-net-worth divorces can raise complicated issues involving spousal and child support. One spouse may have been a stay-at-home parent who sacrificed career advancement for the benefit of the family, which can be considered in determining a spousal support award. Wealthy couples must also evaluate the costs of child-related expenses like private school, summer camp and extracurricular activities.

Dawson Family Law, PLCC has decades of experience representing clients in high-net-worth divorces in the Detroit area. Call me at 833-671-4445 or contact me online to set up a free consultation at my Sterling Heights office.

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    Sterling Heights, Michigan 48314
    Phone: 586-731-7400
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