A divorce is a painful time. You are moving forward with a new life that you will no longer share with your soon-to-be ex. You have many things to consider, particularly if you have a substantial amount of assets. You want to get what is fair. Here are four things to think about when you are going through a high net worth divorce.
Get an accounting of all assets
Collect documentation on all the assets you and your spouse own. Get bank account statements, copies of your mortgage, vehicle titles and retirement account statements. Do not forget about investment accounts, other properties, stocks and other substantial assets. Maybe you have an extensive art collection. That should also be included. Make or print copies of all the statements you can locate. You will paper documents, in case your former spouse decides to move money around later.
If you are suspicious your former partner will hide assets, you may contact a forensic accountant or an experienced family law attorney. These professionals are trained to find hidden money, even if your ex thinks he or she has hidden it well.
Consider what is marital property and separate property
Massachusetts is an equitable property distribution state. When couples divorce, marital property is divided equitably, though not always evenly. Marital property are all the assets you and your former partner acquired after marriage. However, if the value of separate property increased while you are married, the money you made off that asset may be subject to property division.
Certain assets are not subject to property division, even if you acquire these during your marriage. If you received an inheritance or a gift, these are not considered marital property. An inheritance or gift is not subject to division, unless you use your inheritance to purchase shared items.
Determine the actual value of the assets
Figuring out the value of some assets is relatively simple. A two-million-dollar house is worth two million dollars. However, not everything is straight forward. Having $400,000 in bank account is different than having $400,000 in a 401k. Likewise, valuing a large art collection is no easy task.
With a large amount of complex assets, you should consider bringing in a financial adviser, an accountant or an appraiser. Accurate valuations will help ensure marital property is divided equitably.
What determines alimony
If you make substantially more money than your ex or the other way around, the court may award alimony. The length of the marriage is a deciding factor in how long alimony payments last. There are several other factors considered when awarding alimony. These include:
- Income, skills and employability of each spouse
- Financial needs and debts
- Age and health of each partner
- Lifestyle during the marriage
- Whether one partner was a homemaker
- Lost economic opportunities due to marriage
- Behavior during the marriage, including abuse or adultery
Getting a divorce when you have complex and substantial assets makes the situation more difficult. It is usually best to secure help during this type of property division. With qualified help, you can uncover any hidden assets, determine what is marital property, get accurate valuations and make sure alimony is awarded fairly.