Identification of the Marital Estate
Property is defined as anything with an exchangeable value, including every interest, estate, right, obligation or debt. Under New Jersey divorce law, all real or personal property acquired or earned during the marriage is generally presumed to be jointly owned, regardless of how it is titled. Depending on the length of the marriage and other factors, the lines that divide marital property from separate property may be hard to establish without the assistance of a qualified high asset divorce lawyer.
It is also important to have any existing prenuptial or postnuptial agreement carefully reviewed by a divorce lawyer experienced in drafting and enforcing these agreements for high net worth couples. Under certain circumstances, prenuptial agreements may be challenged or even overturned, so it is crucial that issues be addressed early on so as to avoid a potentially difficult and costly legal issue down the line.
When a couple of high net worth divorces, it is essential that marital assets are valuated fairly and accurately. This often requires the involvement of various financial experts. Our South Jersey divorce lawyers work with highly qualified tax experts, forensic accountants, professional appraisers, as well as pension and business valuation experts. Together, we work toward property division agreements that address:
- Retirement assets including pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs
- Businesses and other closely held corporations
- Antique, art and jewelry collections
- Stocks and other investments
- Professional practices and licenses
- Suspected hidden assets
Division of Assets
Identifying marital assets and determining their value is only the first part of the equation. The next step involves the division or transfer of marital assets to each party. Because New Jersey law calls for an equitable, but not always equal division of assets, it is critical that a divorce attorney knows how to combine the law with the financial experts’ advice in such as way as to ensure a beneficial distribution for his or her client. This will also help to avoid potentially costly mistakes. For example, one common mistake made by underrepresented individuals is to agree to a seemingly generous settlement, only to incur an enormous tax burden later. An experienced and qualified high asset divorce lawyer can anticipate and avoid these types of pitfalls.
Spousal Support and Alimony
Spousal support can become a very contentious issue when the financial stakes are high. Important factors primarily considered when establishing a support award include: the length of marriage; the standard of living established during the marriage; the reasonable needs of the dependant spouse; and the degree to which one spouse has contributed to the other spouse’s increased earning potential.
The formula used to determine support for children of high income families is very similar to the formula used at all income levels. It is primarily based on the income or earning potential of both parents and the amount of time the child spends in the custody of each parent. Generally, expenses like the mortgage, utilities, and non-essentials such as vacations are not considered relevant factors in establishing support.
However, because the guidelines are designed to provide children with the same standard of living they would have had if both parents were still living together, there are a number of factors that would allow the court to deviate from the basic formula. Examples may include private school tuition, music lessons, educational trips and other activities deemed beneficial for the child’s well-being.
Protecting Your Business and Personal Interests
Because of the increased stakes involved, high asset divorces have the potential to become fiercely contested. Business owners or high profile individuals may worry about the impact a bitter or public divorce battle may have on their professional reputation. Our South Jersey high asset divorce lawyers understand this, and are committed to protecting the interests of our clients in a manner that preserves the dignity and professional integrity of everyone involved. We also understand the importance of keeping clients’ personal, financial and business information from becoming a matter of public discussion. We employ intelligent and creative legal strategies designed to protect the privacy of our high profile and high net worth clients.