Considerations in a High Net Worth Divorce

Even for the wealthy, divorce can be emotionally and financially draining. When Amazon.com, Inc. founder Jeff Bezos and his ex-wife, MacKenzie Bezos, finalized their divorce, she received 25% of Bezos' stake in Amazon – worth $38bn (£29bn) – as part of their divorce settlement. By finalizing their divorce, they joined countless wealthy Americans who have split up for various reasons.

No matter your situation, divorce is often a difficult and emotional process for everyone involved. However, it can get even more complicated when more assets, property, and income are involved. Due to the value of property and assets, a divorce involving couples with high net worth often presents additional challenges. An experienced Ohio family law attorney can evaluate your unique situation and enlighten you about some important considerations in a high net worth divorce.

At Heckert & Moreland Co., LPA, we have the experience, diligence, and resources to assist and guide high net worth individuals and couples in divorce-related matters. Our attorneys are available to discuss your unique circumstances and help you understand some important considerations in a high net worth divorce. We’re proud to serve clients in Columbus, Ohio, and throughout Central Ohio.

High Net Worth Divorces

A high net worth divorce can be described as a divorce involving a couple with more than $1 million in assets and property. Due to the high monetary value of the assets, negotiating divorce settlements – especially asset division, alimony, and child support – usually involves higher stakes.

For instance, for an estate worth $5M in value, each additional percent is $50,000. Therefore, working with an attorney with an in-depth understanding of finance, accounting, and business valuation is crucial to keeping asset division fair and equitable. Below are some important considerations for high net worth divorces.

Prenuptial Agreement

In most marriages involving spouses with high net worth, prenuptial agreements – a written contract entered into by engaged couples before getting legally married – are often established. However, this doesn’t always mean the prenup is valid, legally binding, or enforceable. In the event that the terms of the prenuptial agreement are completely one-sided, not fair and just to both spouses, or one spouse doesn’t fully disclose their assets, it may be considered invalid and unenforceable.

Asset Issues

In divorce cases involving couples with a high net worth, property division can be really contentious. Spouses may own several real estate properties, valuable assets, or have important interests in the family businesses. Moreover, the continued operation of the business may depend on both parties working together collectively.

To ensure equitable asset distribution, the couples will need to enlist qualified professionals to help identify, evaluate, and divide the marital assets. In a contested divorce, the Ohio court may consider the following factors to determine equitable marital property division:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The assets and liabilities available to each spouse
  • The liquidity of the property
  • The costs of the sale of property
  • If you have children, whether the custodial parent would benefit from remaining in the marital home
  • Whether the couple executed a premarital agreement concerning property division
  • Retirement benefits of each spouse
  • The tax consequences of asset division to each spouse
  • Any other factor the court considers necessary to achieve fair and equitable division

Spousal Support

If both spouses make substantial incomes, spousal support may not be an issue. However, if one spouse is dependent on the other spouse – for instance, a stay-at-home parent – the Ohio courts may award spousal support. The higher-earning spouse will be required to support the non- or lower-earning spouse through predetermined monthly payments. Spousal support may be temporary or set for a specified number of months or years.

Tax Issues

The high monetary value of the assets may bring about different tax issues. Tax considerations may encompass anything from real estate to business entities, spousal support, and benefit plans. It is advisable that you consult with an experienced attorney or tax experts to enlighten you about tax issues regarding your high net worth divorce.

Forensic Accounting

Forensic accounting may be required to track down assets that are hidden away and determine the financial status of each party. An experienced forensic accountant can help differentiate between separate and marital assets during the property division aspect of the divorce.

Publicity of Your Divorce

Unfortunately, divorces involving couples with high net worth – including celebrities, social elites, and popular philanthropists – often become public knowledge, and journalists may want to dig deeper into your marital issues. A knowledgeable attorney can craft an effective strategy to help protect your privacy and mitigate unwanted attention.

Duration of Divorce Proceedings

As a result of the complexities of assets and property involved in the divorce case, high net worth divorces usually take extended periods of time compared to a typical divorce case. Issues of property division are also more contentious and may result in fierce legal battles. In some situations, divorce cases involving high net worth couples can take several months or even years to finalize.

How Legal Counsel Can Help

Navigating the financial side of a high net worth divorce in Ohio can be tricky. Identifying, evaluating, and dividing assets, establishing alimony and child support agreements, and resolving tax issues with your estranged spouse can make the whole process even more complicated. Therefore, you need to speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney for comprehensive guidance on key divorce issues and to help make intelligent decisions.

At Heckert & Moreland Co., LPA, we are committed to providing outstanding legal services and knowledgeable advocacy to clients in family law and divorce matters involving high net worth assets and property. As your legal counsel, we can assess your unique situation and explore your possible legal options. Our team will work diligently to protect your assets and help negotiate a fair divorce settlement. Also, we will work with all parties involved to resolve pending divorce matters amicably.

Every divorce is unique. Contact Heckert & Moreland Co., LPA today to schedule a simple consultation with experienced divorce attorneys. Our trusted team will offer you the detailed legal counsel, support, and brilliant advocacy you need during this difficult period to help make your transition as smooth as possible. Our firm proudly serves individuals and families in Columbus, Ohio, and throughout Central Ohio.


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