How Is Separate and Community Property Determined in a High Net Worth Divorce?
New York laws require equitable distribution of marital property when a couple divorces. However, the process is more challenging when one or both spouses have a high net worth.
A high-net-worth divorce is complex. Valuing each asset and determining how to divide everything fairly requires a strategic approach.
The Courts Only Consider Marital Property
The courts only distribute marital property between spouses during a divorce regardless of their net worth. Marital property typically includes any property either or both spouses acquire while married. Separate property is property each person owned prior to the marriage or that they acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage. However, classifying each asset as marital or separate can be challenging.
Complicating factors can arise when categorizing assets between marital and separate property, such as:
- A pre or postnuptial agreement specifying whether specific assets should be marital or separate
- Property one spouse receives during marriage as an inheritance or gift from a third party
- Separate property owned before marriage commingled with the marital property while married
Deciding who has rights to some assets and whether each spouse should receive an equitable share is complicated. For example, one spouse might bring property into the marriage that appreciates in value through one or both spouses’ investments or efforts. In such a case, the separate property may have been converted into marital property.
Identifying and Categorizing Assets
Determining how to divide property in a high net-worth divorce requires identifying and categorizing the assets. You should work with an experienced divorce lawyer to gather relevant documents that can prove whether the property is marital or separate.
Locating Assets During Divorce
A high net worth divorce often involves assets one or both spouses fail to disclose. That requires searching for the property you and your spouse jointly own to ensure you receive your fair share.
Unique collectibles, off-shore accounts, and business interests are a few examples of undisclosed assets you can find in a high net-worth divorce. There might also be royalties, stock options, and additional intangible assets.
Your divorce attorney can work with a forensic accountant to uncover hidden marital property and determine its value.
Deciding What Constitutes Equitable Distribution During Divorce Proceedings
Equitable distribution means dividing property equitably instead of equally. Since equity is subjective, judges must consider various factors to determine the value of marital assets and how to split them fairly. These factors might include:
- The duration of the marriage
- Each spouse’s age and health
- Whether one person will primarily care for the children
- Alimony and other financial obligations one spouse must pay the other
- Each spouse’s property, income, debts, and earning potential
Marital misconduct, such as adultery, often doesn’t affect property division decisions. However, the judge might use one spouse’s intentional efforts to waste marital assets against them.
For example, someone might gamble funds in a joint bank account or buy lavish gifts for a new partner before finalizing the divorce. These wasted expenses can count against that person while the judge values those assets and divides them between the parties.
Fight for What You Deserve with a Reputable High Net Worth Divorce Attorney
A high net-worth divorce differs significantly from other types of divorces because of the potential for hidden assets and the vast array of assets that may be included in the marital property. You can protect your interests and financial future by hiring an experienced divorce attorney from The Mandel Law Firm. We will use our extensive resources to locate vital assets and aggressively pursue a favorable outcome in your case.
If you’re going through a high net worth divorce in New York City, do not hesitate to call The Mandel Law Firm at (646) 770-3868.