While all divorce proceedings are inherently stressful, emotional and difficult to navigate, high-net-worth divorce cases tend to be especially challenging. In these cases any investments, properties or assets accumulated over the course of the marriage must be equitably distributed between each party which, is no easy task.
Assets That Typically Need to Be Divided Include, But Are Not Limited To:
- Bank Accounts (Domestic and Offshore)
- Retirement Accounts
- Stock Portfolios
- Savings Accounts
- Most Physical Possessions
- The Family Home
- Real Estate Investment Properties
- Business Ownership
- 401(k) Funds
- IRA Portfolios
- And More
Three Tips on Accounting for Your Assets During the Divorce Process
Be Upfront About All Your Assets and Debts
It may seem counterintuitive, but one of the most important things you can do when making your financial disclosures is to be honest about any and all of your assets and debts. People often think they can conceal assets by “giving them away” to a friend or family member, or simply by not disclosing the existence of an asset. But doing so can result in a number of serious consequences.
- If you’re caught trying to hide the existence of an asset, you may subject yourself to penalties – including fines and even jail time in extreme circumstances – for contempt of court.
- Even if you’re able to successfully hide the existence of the asset for the time being, if it’s discovered in the future you run the risk of losing half, if not all, of that asset.
- If the court suspects you’re being dishonest and attempting to hide assets, an argument for imputation of income could be made. And, it will have a serious negative impact on your credibility and trustworthiness in the judge’s eyes; with the final outcome depending heavily on your perceived credibility. This is something you never want to risk in court.
Get Your Documents in Order
In order to keep assets you owned prior to the marriage, you will need to provide documents proving those assets should in fact be your own separate property after the divorce is final, rather than leaving them on the table to be equitably distributed between you and your spouse. Tangible items, such as cars, real estate properties, furnishings, etc. tend to be easier to trace and prove precisely when and where you obtained acquired such assets, but nontangible items will be a bit trickier. Carefully sort through all your financial documents to find as much “proof”/supporting evidence as possible, such as dated account statements, inheritance documents, investment reports, etc. Any gifts acquired during the marriage will also need to be documented.
Be Ready and Willing to Negotiate
While negotiation may be challenging in a particularly contentious divorce case, if you and your spouse are on good enough terms you may be able to negotiate terms/results that are more favorable to both parties than perhaps dividing all assets equally down the middle.
For example, if there’s a specific asset you want, such as a retirement account, or the family home, discuss this with your spouse and ask if he or she has any particular assets they’d like to keep as well. Often one spouse is able to exchange his or her share of equity in the home for a larger share of the retirement account, or vice versa, or make a number of other trade-offs that will enable both parties to walk away satisfied.
Before you agree to any settlements, arrangements or other types of negotiations, it’s important you speak with an experienced divorce attorney to ensure you’re taking all potential legal consequences into consideration.
Experienced Divorce and Family Law Attorneys in Chicago and Oak Park, Illinois
It’s important to keep in mind that because the court views marital assets as belonging to both parties, the judge will be attempting to divide all property and assets equitably. Even if you believe your spouse did not play a significant role in the acquisition of any assets in question, in all likelihood the court will not agree, meaning the judge might still choose to divide all assets equally. Fortunately, by hiring an attorney with extensive experience in these complex proceedings, you increase your chances of getting a fair and reasonable outcome.
Hiring a skilled attorney experienced in property division and high-net-worth divorce proceedings, such as those at Conniff Law Offices, will not only make it easier to manage these particularly complex cases, but also ensure you walk away from your dissolved marriage with the best, fairest outcome possible.
To speak with one of our courteous, professional attorneys about the dissolution of your marriage, contact us today for an immediate, confidential case review. Our team will go above and beyond to ensure your expectations are exceeded.