High net worth divorce cases are those which involve assets and property with a very high value, sometimes exceeding even 100 million dollars. Divorce and separation cases can get messy. Adding to that, if the divorce involves property and assets with high monetary value, the parties involved might find the legal processes to be more complicated.
During property settlement, family lawyers have to ensure that both parties’ circumstances are considered and the process is carried out carefully. In doing so, the lawyer will also need to assess the future needs of the parties and make careful decisions accordingly.
If the legal proceedings following a high net worth divorce is contested, there are other important services that will need to be used like mediation and family dispute resolution. These services help the parties reach an agreement by facilitating healthy discussions between both parties.
Complex assets in high net worth divorce cases
In this section, we will explore the types of assets involved in high net worth cases. High net worth cases usually involve some complex assets as we will see below.
- Bank accounts
Multiple bank accounts including single, joint and foreign bank accounts are involved in high net worth divorce cases. The process becomes more complicated when many accounts are involved because determining the financial contributions made from each party will be challenging.
- Foreign investments and stocks
Foreign investments attract many high-profile individuals because of the high amount of interests and returns which are associated with such investments. Similarly, the stock market can often be a good source of passive income and many financially sophisticated individuals invest in stocks.
- Digital assets
Digital assets like cryptocurrency are popular among wealthy individuals. Because of the growing popularity of cryptocurrency like BitCoin and Ethereum, high-profile individuals continue to invest in digital assets.
- Retirement benefits
Retirement benefits will also need to be divided equitably between the involved parties. Retirement benefits include pension and superannuation funds
- Real estate and property
With real estate and property, it is often found that wealthy individuals have real estate in more than one country. These assets are also complicated because identifying the value of these properties can get complicated because of foreign currencies.
By analysing the types of complex assets involved in high net worth divorce cases, it is clear that the legal processes which follow will be onerous. Generally, property settlement in divorce cases is a lengthy process. With high net worth cases, the processes involved need to be a bit more detailed, thereby resulting in more time-consuming procedures.
Legal responsibilities involved in high net worth divorce cases
In this section, let’s have a look at the legal processes which need to be completed. Family lawyers will help you complete these procedures in order to finalise property settlement in complicated divorce cases.
The discovery stage is related to identifying all the assets involved in the case. In doing so, lawyers also have to identify any liabilities which will need to be considered. As previously discussed, assets could be in the form of stocks, investments, real estate, and digital currency – among others.
Valuation is a particularly tricky process and it involves finding the value of each of the assets and liabilities. It is common for serious challenges to arise at this stage, and especially so in the case of digital assets which are hard to value because of their volatility.
Furthermore, in case of foreign investments, market value and currency fluctuations add to the challenge of valuing assets accurately.
- Assessing contributions
Assessing the contributions of each party is also a tricky process, but this process is essential to ensure that the division of assets is equitable. Contributions are of two types – financial and non-financial.
Non-financial contributions include things like taking care of the home, renovating the home, and taking care of the children.
- Determine the future needs of each party
Once contributions are assessed, the future needs of each party will also need to be considered. For instance, if one party is the primary carer of the child, the division of assets needs to be executed only after determining the special future needs of the party.
- Is the settlement equitable?
When the court is involved in the legal proceedings, it will check if the settlement is equitable and only then proceed to make orders for division of assets.
Because of the challenges and complexities of property settlement in high net worth divorce cases, it is recommended that you seek legal representation for division of assets following a divorce. This is the best way to ensure that the division of assets is equitable and each party receives a fair share of the assets.
John Bui is the Principal Solicitor of JB Solicitors – a law firm based in Sydney, Australia. The firm deals with family law, property law, and criminal law matters – among others.
John has over 10 years experience in family law and commercial litigation. John is also a Nationally Accredited family law Mediator and Arbitrator.