High net worth divorces create many issues that just aren’t present in middle class or lower class divorces. There is a lot more at stake because both parties have a lot more to lose.
We have helped many high net worth clients navigate these complex issues.
What property can be divided in a divorce?
All assets acquired during the marriage (marital property) may be divided during the divorce. This includes:
- The family home
- Bank accounts
- Vacation/holiday homes/cottages/cabins
- Rental homes/properties
- Time shares
- Investment portfolio
- Stocks and bonds
- Businesses, including complex corporations and tax avoidance vehicles
- Farms and ranches
- Valuable collections such as coins, art, etc.
- Cars, RVs, trucks, motorcycles, and boats.
What counts as “marital property?”
Marital property is any property that:
- Was not excluded in a prenuptial agreement as exempt property;
- Is not exempt property under the Divorce Act;
- Was acquired during the course of the marriage or adult interdependent partnership.
- Property that you placed in your spouse’s name.
Exempt property would include:
- Property you can prove that you owned prior to the date of marriage.
- Assets that were gifted by a third party.
- Assets acquired by inheritance.
- Personal injury awards or settlements, so long as your spouse was not a party in that cases.
- Insurance proceeds.
- Property that you specifically protected with a prenuptial agreement.
Note that sometimes marital property can become comingled with exempt property in a way that undermines its exemption. For example, if you used your inheritance to put a down payment on the family home the family home is still marital property.
There are times when only the initial value of the property is exempt. For example, if you owned your retirement account prior to the date of marriage then the initial balance is exempt, but the value of the account that has accumulated during the course of your marriage is not. If you came into the marriage with $20,000 and the account is now worth $100,000, then that $80,000 gain can be divided up as marital assets.
Of course, dividing property isn’t as simple as totalling up the value of the property, selling it all off, and writing each party a check. The way that property is divided can have deep consequences for the value of the property, as well as for your future tax burden. Our team helps to ensure that your property is divided fairly and in a way that protects its value.
What happens if my spouse hides assets during the divorce?
Hiding assets is a criminal fraud offense if either party lies on any sworn documents. Spouses who hide assets generally must pay restitution to the other spouse and pay a fine to the court. They may also be required to serve jail time.
In addition, if a judge divides assets and then discovers, later, that some assets were hidden, then they will render the entire initial agreement as invalid and unenforceable, and will create a new division of asset agreement based on the true assets.
How Our Legal Team Protects You During Your Airdrie, AB High Net Worth Divorce
We’re experienced negotiators who can save you a great deal of time and money as you navigate your high net worth divorce.
Locating Hidden Assets
Our team employs forensic accountants to make sure we track down every asset that might be relevant to the divorce. We are well acquainted with the signs and signals that can indicate that your ex isn’t being entirely honest. We are serious about making sure you get your due during your Airdrie, AB divorce.
Protecting Asset Value
Certain assets can lose their value when divided incorrectly. For example, if you own a farm or ranch then you will need your farm equipment, livestock, and land to maintain the value of your business. We can offer solutions that allow the farm to keep functioning. The same is true for corporations, rental properties, or investment portfolios which require special handling in order to continue to perform at optimum.
Navigating Tax Complications
High net worth asset division demands that we keep a careful eye on the long-term tax consequences of any move we make. That’s why we work closely both with you and your financial professionals to ensure that you are not overly disadvantaged by your final divorce settlement.
Child Support in HNW Divorces
Once a person’s income exceeds $150,000 the law allows for variances from the Federal Child Support Guidelines. This is more common in cases where income exceeds $350,000, but the fact remains that high net worth couples have some room for negotiation when it comes to child support.In addition, high net worth couples are more likely to have special expenses, such as private school tuition. We work closely with you to ensure that your children are cared for but that the final arrangement is livable and workable for all parties.
Spousal Support in HNW Divorces
Spousal support is a major point of contention in most high net worth divorces. The wealthier spouse rarely wants to write a large check to their ex every month. We come armed with a wealth of solutions and options to help the settlement process run smoothly.
We’ve represented both payors who wish to minimize their support obligations and payees who wish to maximize their support award. In both cases we give our client our full support, and ensure that they get the best deal possible within the boundaries of Alberta’s divorce laws. We also provide ongoing support for parties who require support modifications or extensions after the initial case has concluded.
Why choose us?
Here at Merchant Law we’ve helped hundreds of Airdrie, AB couples navigate their divorce. We’re especially adept at helping cattle ranchers, oil and gas executives, and other high net worth individuals tackle the complex issues that can arise during the divorce process.
Call (403) 225-7777 to schedule a case review today.