High Asset Divorce
Divorce is one of the most stressful life events a married couple can endure. When divorce occurs between a couple that share business enterprises, stocks, retirement plans, property and real estate, and those with prenuptial agreements, the legal woes and headaches multiply. Consultation and representation by an experienced and knowledgeable divorce lawyer is essential to protecting the legal rights and assets of both spouses.
Identification of Income, Assets, and Hidden Assets
Identifying the income and assets of a married couple is vital to a fair divorce settlement. Identification of hidden income and assets is equally important. In many high net worth divorces, spouses are not always aware of all income sources or assets that have accumulated during the marriage.
Business ventures, partnerships, interests, stock purchases, inheritances, trusts, and annuities that accumulate during the marital period become part of the estate. All bank accounts, brokerage accounts, individual retirement accounts, pensions, deferred compensation, and stock options available to one spouse need to be valued so that a fair distribution among both marital partners can be reached.
Division of Real Estate and Property
In a high net worth divorce, there can be several residences, vacation homes in various locations, and investment or commercial properties. Depending on the specifics of each purchase, not all property may be subject to equitable distribution. The date of the marriage, purchase date of the property, down payment amounts, and payment sources will impact the portion of the property each spouse is entitled to receive. Valuation, comparative market appraisal, and analysis of each property is essential to fair distribution.
Couples must also decide what they will do with each property after they divorce. The issue of which property will be the place of residence for each spouse, what properties will be sold, and which properties will be redistributed among the divorcing couple must be decided. When an amicable settlement is not possible, the court will need to step in.
Retirement Benefits and Stock Options
In New Jersey, all retirement benefits accrued from the date of the marriage to the date the couple petitions for divorce are generally subject to equitable distribution. All 401k plans, 403B, IRAs, pensions, deferred compensation plans, SEPs, and SERPs will be examined and then split through a domestic relations order. These assets are distributed in the future, but the net worth and benefit amount you are entitled to are established at this time. Stock options offered through employment can become very complicated when figuring out taxes related to stock distribution or early withdrawal penalty.
Distribution of Business Interests and Partnerships
When a spouse or couple owns a business, equitable distribution of these assets can be increasingly complex. The business or partnership must undergo a valuation process that typically requires the services of a forensic accountant and actuary. An in-depth inspection of all aspects of the business, including the business complex, transaction records, financial records, ledgers, payroll, receivables, machinery, inventory, real estate, client lists, partnership interests, enterprise, and goodwill will be done to determine the current and future worth of the business.
If one spouse owned the business before the marriage occurred, it may affect whether the business is considered a marital asset. The couple must also decide whether they will keep the business or sell it. Buy-outs, sale, annuitized settlement, or some other distribution agreement must be drafted when the decision is made on the future of the business.
Prenuptial agreements are honored in New Jersey courts. It is vital that a qualified divorce lawyer reviews the prenuptial agreement in relation to current New Jersey laws. A spouse that signed a prenuptial agreement may still be entitled to part of their spouse’s retirement benefits and property.
The laws regarding prenuptial agreements are specific in New Jersey and can be overwhelming to interpret if a lawyer is not familiar with the most current stipulations. Consultation and representation of a competent and experienced South Jersey divorce lawyer will ensure that your rights are protected, and that you claim your fair share of marital assets.
South Jersey Divorce Lawyers at Burnham Law Group, LLC Provide Experienced and Knowledgeable Counsel in High Asset Divorces
If you or someone you know is considering divorce and has a wealth of assets, the experienced team of South Jersey divorce lawyers at Burnham Law Group, LLC can ensure that your legal rights are protected. Call us at 856-751-5505 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are in Marlton and Somers Point, New Jersey, and we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including those in Burlington County, Camden County, and Atlantic County.