NEW JERSEY HIGH-NET-WORTH DIVORCE LAWYERS
Worried about Protecting What’s Yours? We’ll Fight for Your Rights.
PRESERVING YOUR WEALTH IN YOUR DIVORCE
Every divorce has its difficulties and complications. But high-net-worth divorces are typically more complex because of the various assets (and potentially debts) involved. Simply put, the high financial stakes can lead to disputes with your soon-to-be-ex spouse and worries over what you could potentially lose if things don’t go your way. For these reasons, it’s essential to have legal representation from a law firm that understands the intricacies inherent in high-asset divorces. The right legal guidance can make a significant difference in how your divorce resolves and what assets and property you walk away with.
Experienced High-Net-Worth Divorce Attorneys Protect Client Interests
At Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC, we have extensive experience helping clients in high-net-worth divorces obtain their desired outcomes. Our goal is to safeguard your interests in divorce, so you can move on with your life with your wealth intact. Call (201) 880-9770 to arrange a consultation with a high-net-worth divorce attorney and learn how we can help you.
WHY CHOOSE US?
When your property and assets are at stake, you need highly skilled legal representation. Law firm founder Carrie S. Schultz and her team of attorneys have decades of combined experience beneficially resolving divorce issues for high-net-worth clients.
- We are widely recognized for professional excellence by our legal peers.
- We have received numerous positive reviews from previous clients, most of which were high net worth.
- The firm has a Better Business Bureau A+ rating.
Additionally, our attorneys only handle divorce cases and other family law matters, so we are not distracted by other areas of the law. You can count on us to provide exceptional services and sound legal guidance.
WHAT IS A HIGH-ASSET DIVORCE?
There isn’t an exact number that designates couples as high-net-worth. But in general terms, people in high-net-worth marriages have significant liquid assets—such as $1 million or several million. These assets may include:
- Businesses or professional practices
- Stock and stock options
- Equity compensation
- IRAs, profit sharing, pensions and other retirement assets
- Residences, vacation properties, rentals and commercial real estate holdings
- Valuable cars, boats, artwork, jewelry and other personal property.
There are a lot of not-so-straightforward legal questions surrounding these kinds of assets, including, most importantly, whether they are separate or marital property.
Also, high net worth could mean a couple, or at least one spouse with income over $250,000 gross annually.
WHAT IS SEPARATE AND MARITAL PROPERTY?
In general, assets that parties bring into the start of their marriage or that they obtained through an inheritance during the marriage start with the premise that they are separate property and not subject to division, unless there is an exception that would be applicable to that rule. Assets obtained during marriage are considered marital property and are subject to division when the marriage ends.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and sometimes assets owned prior to marriage or titled in one person’s name can become marital property, whether intentional or by accident. Here are some examples of instances in which separate property may become marital property:
- Money that one spouse receives through inheritance is separate property. But if it’s put into joint savings or investment accounts—or used to fund the marital lifestyle, it could be considered or converted into marital property.
- If one spouse owns a house before the marriage and the title is changed so both spouses are listed as owners, a portion of it considered marital property unless the circumstances make a good case as to why it should not be.
- Even if a house owned before marriage remains only in the name of one spouse, its increase in value since the marriage started may be divided.
Proving who owns what in a high-asset divorce can be very challenging. It requires in-depth insight into New Jersey divorce laws. Our attorneys will bring that insight to your case.
VALUING ASSETS FOR MARITAL DISTRIBUTION
Once property is identified as being in the marital pot, it must be valued before it can be divided.
In some instances, valuing property is relatively straightforward, such as for a bank account. In other instances, it is much more complex and requires the help of expert independent appraisers, forensic accountants, or others, such as in valuing a business or making the income analysis of a sole proprietorship.
In order to divide a marital estate, it is necessary to have a clear picture of the value of each individual asset in the estate. We work with a number of appraisers and financial experts who have specific experience valuing assets for purposes of equitable distribution, and we can work with specialists (such as business appraisers and forensic financial accountants) if necessary in order to make sure that you do not unknowingly give up more than your fair share in your divorce. If necessary, we can also challenge your spouse’s appraisals, and we have a variety of means available for ensuring that your equitable distribution is based upon appropriate valuations. These valuations and reports are for the divorce process only and no one is interested in telling on you to the IRS (except a Judge at a trial). That said, it is important to understand that you and your spouse could get into trouble with the IRS if you both knowingly or should of known of any income underreporting and so that is a discussion very much relevant to help settle your case.
HOW OUR HIGH-ASSET DIVORCE ATTORNEYS CAN HELP
Property in divorce can be divided through negotiations between the parties (which may include participating in mediation) or, if that fails and your divorce goes to trial, by a New Jersey judge. We will help you develop a strong strategy going into negotiations and will look out for you throughout the process, asserting your right to an equitable part of the marital estate. And if there is too much conflict in your situation to make settlement a reality, we will stand up for your rights in court.
Negotiating Your High-Net-Worth Divorce Settlement
When divorce settlements can be negotiated between the parties involved, it usually causes less stress for everyone. If you and your spouse are on decent terms, negotiating a settlement may be an option for you, but negotiations shouldn’t be approached lightly. With so much on the table, it’s important to have a plan from the start. You should know what your goals are and what financial assets you want to come away with. We will guide you in thinking through all of these issues and will establish a strategic plan for negotiating a fair and advantageous settlement.
Advocating for Your Interests at Trial
Should your divorce go to trial, the judge will divide your marital property based on the numerous equitable distribution factors spelled out in NJSA 2A:34-23.1. In addition to basics like the length of the marriage and the ages and health of both parties, just a few of the financial factors the judge will consider include:
- The income or property each spouse brought to the marriage
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements
- Tax consequences of the proposed distribution.
There are various ways to effectuate the equitable distribution of the assets to be divided. Some take a straight percentage of the value of the assets. Others want to trade one asset for another. Some offset varying assets so no physical money must be exchanged between the parties. It really just depends on what is best, given the totality of the circumstances, always remembering that some assets are more liquid than others and therefore the monetary value isn’t the only consideration when even attempting to offset assets. We will argue strongly on your behalf in equitable distribution decisions.
We will work zealously to protect the property you brought to your marriage and to ensure that marital property is fairly divided, either through a negotiated settlement or by a judge if your case goes to trial.
OUR HIGH-NET-WORTH DIVORCE LAWYERS ANSWER FAQS
Issues in divorce can be confusing, not to mention plentiful. In high-asset divorces, they can be even more so. Here we answer some of the questions we frequently hear from people in high-asset situations.
Is alimony a factor in a high-net-worth divorce?
It can be, depending on all the circumstances. And the amount of alimony can be significant, especially if there is a large disparity in the spouses’ incomes.
NJSA 2A:34-23(b) sets out factors a judge must consider when there is a request for alimony and, if it’s given, how much and for how long. In addition to maintaining a reasonably comparable standard of living to that established in the marriage, judges will take into account other things, including how property was equitably distributed, income available to either party through investments, tax consequences to both spouses of alimony awards and the contributions of each party to the marriage, both financially and non-financially. If alimony may be a factor in your divorce, an alimony lawyer from our firm can provide advice specific to your situation.
How are business assets handled?
If a business is subject to division, it opens up many issues that must be resolved. The business must be valued, or the owner spouse’s percentage interest in that business. The cash flow the business throws off is important too. If there is an ownership agreement with co-owners stating what happens in case of divorce, it must be taken into account. Business income may not be clear. For example, personal expenses may be paid through the business, and earnings that would otherwise fund the marital lifestyle may be retained in the business (instead of in a joint bank account). Such things as deferred compensation benefits, pensions, retirement plans, termination benefits, and signing bonuses may have to be considered.
We retain accountants, forensic accountants, and business valuation experts to work on high-net-worth cases. Their expertise could be critical in the outcome of your divorce, especially if they are needed to testify during a trial.
How do prenuptial and mid-marriage agreements affect equitable distribution?
The one way to avoid New Jersey’s equitable distribution rule is by entering into a prenuptial or mid-marriage agreement. If you and your fiancé or spouse signed an enforceable agreement that addressed property rights in the event of a divorce, our high-net-worth divorce lawyers can use your agreement to make sure your assets protected by the agreement are secure.
What are the tax considerations in a high-asset divorce?
For wealthy individuals, the distribution of marital property in a divorce can potentially trigger substantial tax liabilities or tax benefits. . Our attorneys have an understanding of the tax issues involved in high-net-worth divorces, and we can help structure your property distribution to minimize your overall tax obligation. As divorce lawyers we are not tax experts, but we work closely with those who are, including CPAs, tax planning strategists, tax attorneys and other professionals with expertise in federal and state tax laws.
Reach out directly to our law firm for answers that address your specific divorce situation.
WHAT NOT TO DO IN A DIVORCE — NEVER TRY TO HIDE ASSETS
Sometimes people getting divorced may find it tempting to hide property from the other spouse, maybe by transferring assets to a third party or burying them in shell businesses. Some even think closing the business will solve all potential problems. That is a myth and a very bad decision to make. Hiding marital assets or closing a business prematurely is not only a big mistake that can severely impact your case when property distribution decisions are made — it’s also illegal!
During divorce, full disclosure of all of your assets is the only smart way to go. And just because you list an asset, this doesn’t automatically mean it will be divided. A determination about whether it is in the marital pot or is exempt from division must be made first.
With that said, if you suspect your spouse is hiding assets, we will investigate to discover whether an attempt is being made to cheat you out of fair distribution. If it is, we’ll hold them accountable.
OUR HIGH-NET-WORTH DIVORCE LAWYERS PROTECT YOUR FINANCIAL FUTURE
You have the right to be treated fairly in your divorce. We’ll work to make sure you are. To learn what we can do for you based on your unique situation, contact Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC to arrange a confidential consultation.
Call our Bergen County law office at (201) 880-9770 to speak with one of our experienced high-net-worth divorce attorneys.