It doesn’t matter if you have $10 sitting in your bank account or $10 million — the emotional cost of giving up on your marriage is about the same. However, high-asset divorces can be a lot more cumbersome and difficult to get through simply because there’s a lot more worth fighting over.
What’s the best way to get through a high-asset divorce? Start thinking of your divorce as a business transaction — because that’s largely what it is.
Keeping that in mind, realize that you need to do the following:
— Educate yourself.
If you were never heavily involved in the family financial dealings, now is the time to take a crash course and educate yourself about what you and your spouse jointly hold. The more you understand about your family’s personal and business holdings, the more prepared you’ll be to negotiate what you want and recognize a fair (or unfair) settlement when you see it.
— Look for hidden assets.
If artwork, jewelry, coin collections or even cars go missing, you’d probably notice — but your spouse might not count on you noticing unusual transfers out of the joint account for non-existent bills or bogus business “expenses” that are just pretexts used to hide cash while the business is being valued.
— Keep records.
Look for records that not only indicate what money you have, but where it originally came from and what it was used to buy. If you had any assets that were separate from your spouse’s money that you wish to keep, make sure you look for proof of where those assets came from, like wills, trusts, financial statements and insurance policies. Make copies of everything you can so that you and your attorney can use them as a starting point for negotiations.
— Keep future costs in mind.
It won’t do you any good to keep the vacation house in the divorce if you can’t afford the property taxes and upkeep and have to turn around and sell it a year later.
Know when it’s smarter to walk away from something that could just be a drain on your more limited finances post-divorce.
Having an attorney who is familiar with the quirks of a high-asset divorce is important, especially if you’re not used to thinking in purely business-like terms. For more information on how we approach high-asset divorces, please visit our page.