Insight

5 Tips to Follow in a High-Net-Worth Divorce

Divorce isn't easy, but for high-net-worth couples, it can be even more complex.

5 Tips for a High-Net-Worth Divorce
Brad M. LaMorgese

Brad M. LaMorgese

February 7, 2020 08:00 AM

Divorce can be a tough process for anyone. As board-certified attorneys in family law, our job is to prepare our clients for the divorce process and minimize the chance of surprises along the way.

For affluent, high-net-worth couples, however, a divorce has the potential to be much more complex, especially when these individuals jointly own businesses, real estate and stock, and other assets. They may have signed pre- or postnuptial agreements that affect the character and divisibility of those assets.

They also may have alternative forms of income such as executive compensation packages, trust funds, or oil and gas royalties to consider. And all of this is before we talk about the more common divorce topics, such as child custody and support.

The following is a shortlist of the things we tell our clients who may find themselves in this situation.

Plan Now

It is always possible that spouses will be able to overcome their differences and choose to stay together. Struggling marriages are saved every day. But as the saying goes, hope for the best, plan for the worst. A divorce will change your life in ways you may not be anticipating. It can be hard and stressful. And one thing that will exacerbate that process is being unprepared. If you believe you and your spouse are headed for divorce, consult an attorney. Ask them about the divorce process and how it will affect your assets. Getting answers to these questions now will save you a lot of time and stress in the future.

Don’t Hide Your Assets

One of the first steps in any divorce will be to compile a list of assets. This establishes what you own and, potentially, what may be divided. Texas is a community property state, which means property acquired during the marriage is jointly owned by both spouses and must be distributed in a “just and right” manner. Knowing this is a catalyst for some individuals to attempt to hide assets from their spouse, sometimes going to great lengths to do so. If this is an idea that has ever occurred to you, we’re here to say, “do not do it.” Aside from being dishonest, its discovery can weigh heavily against you during property division, as well as other possible consequences from a court.

Power Through

A divorce involving high-net-worth individuals typically lasts longer because of the assets involved. Since the divorce process can be stressful, you may be tempted to settle quickly just to put the whole thing behind you. In our opinion, that is almost always a mistake. It may be difficult, but a little patience can go a long way. Remember, your financial future is worth fighting for.

Consult an Accountant

You may remember the now infamous marketing stunt in which Oprah Winfrey gave each member of her show’s studio audience a “free” Pontiac G6. Those individuals, who were quite excited at the time, were very disappointed to learn they were responsible for the thousands of dollars in taxes that Oprah wouldn’t be covering. There’s a similar lesson to be learned here. Because there are many different tax consequences associated with a divorce, it is highly advisable to consult with an accountant. While an experienced divorce attorney will be the one handling your divorce, negotiating with your spouse’s attorney, and making sure all the legal requirements are met, an accountant will be able to dig deeper into your finances and provide valuable insight into how ownership of these assets could affect you.

Listen to the Court

This may seem obvious, but many fail to understand the damage that can be done to a case by not following the court’s orders. It comes as no surprise that courts frown on obstructive and malicious behavior. This means a spouse should pay child and spousal support on time, follow injunctions, and various other orders. Following strict instruction may not come naturally to some, but it’s better to listen and comply than to do something that has the potential to mortally wound your case.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. After all, everyone’s situation is different. And while divorce involving large assets often takes longer to finalize, it’s very possible for the process to go smoothly and without acrimony. Regardless of your situation, be smart. Gather as much information as you can, work together with your attorney, and put together a plan that works for you.

Related Articles

The Top 7 Things to Know Before Filing for Divorce


by Best Lawyers

Consulting with a qualified divorce attorney can help you understand your rights and obligations when filing for divorce. Here are 7 things you should know.

Two golden wedding bands with a crack down the middle

What If Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Had a Premarital Agreement?


by John M. Goralka

Oh, the gritty details we’re learning from the latest court battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. This unfortunate airing of dirty laundry may have been avoided with a prenup. Should you think about getting one yourself?

What If Johnny Depp & Amber Heard Had Prenup?

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers: Family Law Publication


by Best Lawyers

Featuring the top legal talent in Family Law and Trusts & Estates.

Announcing Best Lawyers Family Law 2022

Crossing the Line


by Joseph Trotti

Divorce can be difficult, complicated and emotionally exhausting. Divorcing across state lines ups the jurisdictional complexity significantly.

Jurisdiction and Divorce Across State Lines

Trouble at Home


by Brittney M. Miller and James J. Vedder

Decisions about custody and parenting time after a separation or divorce are never simple. Family violence of any kind makes the process all the more complex—and the victim isn’t always the beneficiary.

How Domestic Violence Complicates Custody

Prenuptial Peril


by Laura Wheatman Hill

Prenups aren’t always bulletproof, but there’s hope if you end up exposed in a divorce.

Why Your Prenup Might Not Save You

New Year Ushers in New Formulas for Calculating Maintenance Payments in Divorce Proceedings


by Timothy E. Weiler

The anticipated outcome of the adoption of the increased income threshold is to reduce litigation about the amount of maintenance to be paid by simply applying the statutorily mandated calculation to more individuals with a much higher annual income.

Maintenance Payments

Learning about Your Finances in Divorce


by Kathleen Ann Hogan

Finances in Divorce

IN PARTNERSHIP

How to Protect Your Inheritance from Divorce in Ontario


by Usman Sadiq

One lawyer in Canada explains that, although division of assets does not always have to be evenly split, it should be fair, and inheritance is no exception.

Small grey house with red roof under large red umbrella on blue background

Divorce in Florida


by Hugo E. Acebo

A Florida family law lawyer highlights the important steps each party should take when facing the complexities of divorce, particularly when faced with decisions surrounding the children.

Painting of father walking with two children

Five Tips for Business Owners Facing Divorce


by Brittany A. Brown

When married couples have entered into joint business ventures find themselves facing divorce, it is important that they heed these five steps to ensure amicable resolution.

People standing in opposite circles forming Venn diagram

Pre and Postnuptial Agreements


by Kelly A. Scott

Family law lawyer Kelly Scott explains what both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are and how they can impact a divorce.

Cartoon image of hand placing puzzle piece between two other pieces

IN PARTNERSHIP

Prenuptial Agreements: A Primer


by Alexis Connors

Family law lawyer Alexis Connors offers insight into what a prenuptial agreement is, what it covers and why couples should consider one before entering into marriage.

Two gold rings and paper cutouts of a couple over prenup papers on clipboard

Reality Check: Is a Prenuptial Agreement Right for You?


by Michele M. Jochner

Suggesting a prenuptial agreement can be uncomfortable and viewed as an expectation that your marriage will fail. Yet, it can be a wise step in planning for the future and eliminating the risk of potentially costly litigation. Here’s what to consider in making that decision.

Bride and groom figurines standing on prenuptial agreement papers

High-Net-Worth Divorce


by Gretchen S. Knight and Jill Spevack Di Sciullo

Many issues can arise during divorce proceedings, particularly for affluent couples. Outlined below are some of the best practices for the most common concerns.

Spouses standing in doorway of home having argument

IN PARTNERSHIP

Cryptocurrency and Divorce


by Crystal Espinosa Buit

One lawyer explains how cryptocurrency, the fastest growing investment form, can impact assets in a divorce and why it should not be ignored in divorce proceedings.

Pixelated image of paper money bill

Trending Articles

How Palworld Is Testing the Limits of Nintendo’s Legal Power


by Gregory Sirico

Many are calling the new game Palworld “Pokémon GO with guns,” noting the games striking similarities. Experts speculate how Nintendo could take legal action.

Animated figures with guns stand on top of creatures

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in America Honorees


by Best Lawyers

Only the top 5.3% of all practicing lawyers in the U.S. were selected by their peers for inclusion in the 29th edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.

Gold strings and dots connecting to form US map

The U.S. Best Lawyers Voting Season Is Open


by Best Lawyers

The voting season for the 31st edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and the 5th edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch® in America is officially underway, and we are offering some helpful advice to this year’s voters.

Golden figures of people standing on blue surface connected by white lines

How To Find A Pro Bono Lawyer


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers dives into the vital role pro bono lawyers play in ensuring access to justice for all and the transformative impact they have on communities.

Hands joined around a table with phone, paper, pen and glasses

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the United States


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and in the 2nd Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2022.

2022 Best Lawyers Listings for United States

What the Courts Say About Recording in the Classroom


by Christina Henagen Peer and Peter Zawadski

Students and parents are increasingly asking to use audio devices to record what's being said in the classroom. But is it legal? A recent ruling offer gives the answer to a question confusing parents and administrators alike.

Is It Legal for Students to Record Teachers?

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2023


by Best Lawyers

The third edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America™ highlights the legal talent of lawyers who have been in practice less than 10 years.

Three arrows made of lines and dots on blue background

2021 Best Lawyers: The Global Issue


by Best Lawyers

The 2021 Global Issue features top legal talent from the most recent editions of Best Lawyers and Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch worldwide.

2021 Best Lawyers: The Global Issue

The Upcycle Conundrum


by Karen Kreider Gaunt

Laudable or litigious? What you need to know about potential copyright and trademark infringement when repurposing products.

Repurposed Products and Copyright Infringemen

The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2024 Launch


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is excited to announce The Best Lawyers in Australia™ for 2023, including the top lawyers and law firms from Australia.

Australian Parliament beside water at sunset

Best Lawyers Voting Is Now Open


by Best Lawyers

Voting has begun in several countries across the globe, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. Below we offer dates, details and answers to voting-related questions to assist with the voting process.

Hands holding smartphone with five stars above phone

Inflation Escalation


by Ashley S. Wagner

Inflation and rising costs are at the forefront of everyone’s mind as we enter 2023. The current volatile market makes it more important than ever to understand the rent escalation clauses in current and future commercial lease agreements.

Suited figure in front of rising market and inflated balloon

Wage and Overtime Laws for Truck Drivers


by Greg Mansell

For truck drivers nationwide, underpayment and overtime violations are just the beginning of a long list of problems. Below we explore the wages you are entitled to but may not be receiving.

Truck Driver Wage and Overtime Laws in the US

A Celebration of Excellence: The Best Lawyers in Canada 2024 Awards


by Best Lawyers

As we embark on the 18th edition of The Best Lawyers in Canada™, we are excited to highlight excellence and top legal talent across the country.

Abstract image of red and white Canada flag in triangles

Presenting the 2024 Best Lawyers Family Law Legal Guide


by Best Lawyers

The 2024 Best Lawyers Family Law Legal Guide is now live and includes recognitions for all Best Lawyers family law awards. Read below and explore the legal guide.

Man entering home and hugging two children in doorway

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in Canada Honorees


by Best Lawyers

The Best Lawyers in Canada™ is entering its 17th edition for 2023. We highlight the elite lawyers awarded this year.

Red map of Canada with white lines and dots