As in most other divorces, cases involving high-assets require the Court to determine, value, and equitably distribute the marital property and debts between the parties. The major difference between typical and high-asset divorces is the value and diversity of the couple’s financial assets and liabilities. Due to the complexity of high-asset divorces, spouses may have concerns about preserving their property and maintaining the lifestyle they have worked hard to achieve.
For spouses with considerable net worth, the prospect of divorce raises challenging questions about asset division. A Montgomery County high-asset divorce lawyer can provide answers to these questions. A trusted divorce attorney understands the complexities of dividing marital estates and can help you reach your goals in your dissolution.
How Are Assets Divided in a High-Asset Divorce?
In Maryland divorces, the division of assets must be ‘equitable,’ not necessarily equal. If spouses disagree on how to divide assets, a judge will decide using a three-step process. Under Maryland Family Law §§ 8-202-205, the court must (1) determine what property is marital, (2) calculate the value of all marital property, and (3) make a monetary award in an effort to balance the equities of both parties.
In a high-asset divorce, determining what property is marital property can be difficult, particularly when the spouses owned property prior to the marriage and subsequently combined, or “commingled”, that property after they married. For example, one spouse may have started a successful business while single and then, by virtue of the marriage, given the other spouse an ownership interest in the business. Fortunately, a seasoned attorney in Montgomery County can help determine what property is marital and what property remains each spouse’s separate asset in a high-asset divorce.
Property Valuation Challenges in Montgomery County Cases
Another challenging aspect of a high-asset marriage dissolution is appropriately and accurately valuing marital property. Certain assets’ value may be more difficult to accurately assess, including but not limited to the following:
- Rare collections, such as art, coins, or wine
- Unvested stock options
- Professional practices like architectural, accounting, law, and medicine
- Intellectual property, including patents, copyrights, and trademarks
- Retirement accounts
- Commercial real estate
- Ownership interests in private and public businesses
An accurate valuation can also be difficult when the property’s value is volatile and consistently fluctuates. For example, stock and real estate values regularly rise and fall based on various economic factors.
To add to these challenges there is no bright-line rule that appraisers, forensic accountants, and/or business evaluators follow for the purpose of determining the value of each asset. They instead rely on their own expertise and experience. A qualified lawyer is aware of the complex nature of asset valuation and can work with experienced valuation experts in Montgomery County to determine the actual value of property in high-asset separations.
Determining Alimony in a High-Asset Divorces
Determining alimony in a high-asset divorce is also particularly complex. Under state law, alimony awards depend, in part, upon the Court’s determination of whether property is marital or non-marital. The Court must consider, among various other factors, the equitable distribution of marital property in the divorce when ascertaining an award of alimony, especially when there is a significant amount of assets at stake.
Whether a high-value asset will generate substantial income to a spouse or a property’s tax liability will drain a spouse’s income may also factor into a judge’s decision. In a case where one spouse may be entitled to alimony, the expertise of a local lawyer may be invaluable.
Consult a Montgomery County High-Asset Divorce Attorney Today
In a high-asset divorce, the income you earn may only be a small portion of your overall net worth. Complex financial investments, vehicles, residential and vacation homes, business interests, and retirement accounts may also be part of your aggregate wealth. If you and your spouse separate, those assets may be at risk.
If you are facing a high-asset divorce, contact an experienced Montgomery County high-asset divorce lawyer. Our legal advocates work with an extensive network of valuation experts and are committed to providing the strategic, results-oriented counsel our clients with substantial assets require. Call today to schedule a private consultation.