Things to consider during your high-asset divorce

Divorce is a difficult emotional time for any family. Couples with children and high net worth have additional matters to consider when dissolving their marriage. While it is a sensitive matter and one that is not easy to navigate, there are steps you can take to make the process a bit less painful.

What is a “high net worth”?

Typically, if a couple owns more than one million dollars in assets, they have a “high net worth.” High net worth does not necessarily mean the couple has to have one million dollars in the bank. The assessment includes homes, vehicles, boats, investments, stock options, and other high-value assets.

Child custody

In many high-net-worth marriages, one spouse stays home with the children. At the same time, the other produces most of the income, which can cause difficulties when deciding on issues involving spousal support, child support and child custody. At the time of divorce, situations like these can cause significant conflict. In child custody matters, it is imperative to be specific with the court regarding what parents wish their custody arrangement to be. The courts will make all decisions aligned with the child’s best interests.

During the divorce process, the court will order a parenting plan to address where the child will live, with whom, where they will go to school, where they will spend most of their time and which parent they will visit.

Separate vs. community property

Washington is a community property state, which considers all assets acquired by either spouse or both during the marriage to be a shared asset. At the time of divorce, the law divides all marital assets equally. Separate property refers to assets owned by either of the spouses before the marriage or an acquisition explicitly given to one of the parties during the marriage, such as an inheritance or a gift given to only one of the spouses. In these cases, judges often take all of this into account to make a “fair and equitable decision.”

Divorce is difficult in all instances but having substantial assets can lead to contention and lengthy litigation. It is important to identify what your main priorities are and if needed, seek the guidance of an experienced attorney.