What is a High-Asset Divorce?
A high-asset divorce is one in which a couple seeking to end their marriage has a particularly large number of assets or significant wealth. When a New Jersey divorce involves significant wealth or a considerable amount in the way of assets, the process can prove to be complex. With that in mind, there are a number of facts and factors you need to bear in mind if you think you are heading towards a high-asset divorce case.Types of Assets that Tend to be Involved
Every divorce case involving a considerable amount in the way of assets has its own unique array of facts and surrounding circumstances. With that said, many New Jersey high-asset divorces do have some things in common:
In many instances, a high-asset marriage dissolution case involves a closely held or family-owned business. Even if the business technically is owned by only by only of the spouses, the New Jersey equitable division or property law applies to the case. The division of a closely held business is one of the most complicated types of assets that come into play in a high-asset divorce.
In addition, in many high-asset marriage dissolution cases, only one spouse is active in the operation of a business. As a consequence, the business itself can provide coverage for the spouse involved in the enterprise who desires to hide marital assets from the other spouse. Unfortunately, this is a relatively common practice in New Jersey and in other states across the country.
Other types of assets that commonly are found in marriage dissolution cases of this nature include:
- Stock options
- Other types of long-term employment incentives
- High-dollar retirement plans
- High-value primary residence
- Vacation residences
- Other real estate holdings
- Investments in other closely held enterprises
- Other types of investment portfolios
- Intellectual property
- Offshore bank accounts
- Other offshore investments
With alarming regularity, parties to high-asset marriage dissolution cases tend to make the same types of mistakes over and over again. As a consequence, time and again a party to a marriage with high-value assets ends up at the proverbial short end of the stick. In such a situation, a person ends up with a significantly lower share of marital assets than he or she would have been entitled had one of another of a number of different mistakes had not occurred during the course of marriage dissolution proceedings. If certain mistakes aren’t discovered in a timely manner during the course of divorce proceedings, they cannot be corrected or rectified once a marriage dissolution case has concluded.
Some of the more commonplace mistakes made in a high-asset marriage dissolution case include:
- Failure to undertake due diligence (and taking a spouse’s word regarding assets and their value).
- Hiding assets (a situation that works both ways). The party hiding assets can be severely sanctioned if the situation is discovered. The party from whom assets are being hidden can end up with less than an equitable share of marital property (if due diligence isn’t undertaken to ensure hidden assets are discovered).
- Overlooking tax implications. In many divorces each year, in New Jersey and across the country, people end up with hefty and unexpected tax liabilities. These tax liabilities oftentimes could have been avoided or at least reduced through the engagement of appropriate professionals to assist in navigating through the process of dividing marital assets.
- Revenge seeking. Unfortunately, revenge seeking is an issue found in divorces of all types, including those with a large amount in the way of assets. The problem of revenge seeking does tend to be magnified in divorces with high assets. This tends to occur because there is more “property to play with” and a person intent on revenge can take that objective to a proverbial higher limit than what might be possible in a more “standard” marriage dissolution case.
If you are heading towards a divorce, and you are in a marriage that can be said to have high assets, you are wise to be as proactive as possible in retaining the services of an appropriately experienced lawyer. You can schedule an appointment with a high-asset divorce attorney at the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen by calling us at (201) 845-7400. There is no charge and no obligation for an initial consultation and case evaluation with our firm.