Have you heard the term "high net worth individual?" Although some countries and institutions may have slightly different understandings of the term, a high net worth individual (HNWI) is someone who has considerable financial assets that are able to be invested. In the United States, a person with assets totaling more than $1 million (excluding the value of their primary residence) is considered an HNWI. Individuals with more than $100,000 in assets may be considered an affluent Sub-HNWI.
If you are an HNWI, there is a good chance that any divorce you engage in will be considered a high net worth divorce. These divorces stand out from other divorces based on one major factor—the stakes are much higher for support payments and division of assets. At Henrickson & Sereebutra, our Paulding County divorce attorneys have helped clients facing difficult family law issues, including high net worth divorces. Reaching a fair and agreeable settlement depends on knowing what to expect, and retaining an attorney capable of protecting your best interests.
Equitable Distribution of Assets
In Georgia, both spouses in a divorce are recognized as having an equitable interest in all marital property. Through a method of equitable distribution, the court will seek to divide property equally between the spouses. This "equal" distribution is largely based on the value of marital assets (including debts) and does not necessarily reflect a fair division of property. In high net worth divorces, equitable distribution can pose a threat when particularly important financial assets are in play.
Assets at risk in a high net worth divorce include the following:
- Ownership stakes in businesses
- Retirement funds
- Bank accounts
Keep in mind, all financial assets may not automatically be subject to division—it depends on whether the court recognizes a particular asset as marital or separate property. Separate property is any asset that was owned by a spouse before the start of the marriage. Marital property is any asset that either spouse acquires during the marriage, with the exception of some inheritances, gifts, and similar assets. Protecting your valuable assets in a high net worth divorce may depend on their accurate evaluation as marital or separate property.
"Commingling" Separate and Marital Property
More often than not, marital and separate property may be mixed together, such as when one spouse makes a deposit into the other spouse's bank account or contributes value to a home, car, or other assets. This is known as "commingling," and it can make the division of particular assets difficult. This is what creates some of the most trouble in high net worth divorces, but it is also what our divorce lawyers in Paulding County are prepared to handle. Gathering accurate information about separate and shared assets works in the favor of both spouses—it ensures you may receive a settlement that protects your best interests and financial security, and it may prevent your spouse from being left at a severe advantage/disadvantage.
Child Support and Alimony Payments
Another major problem in a high net worth divorce is the determination of fair payments for child support and spousal support. Child support is intended to meet the financial requisites of children involved in the divorce, including medical, educational, and extracurricular needs. However, the guidelines for calculating child support are subject to a number of factors that can make it difficult for a spouse to determine a proper amount to pay. Without a proper calculation, the payments may not adequately reflect the amount that the child needs.
Alimony payments may also cause difficulty in a high net worth divorce. When spouses are uncooperative, or purposefully conceal property and finances from discovery, it may result in spousal support payments that leave a spouse at a disadvantage, or unfairly puts the other spouse at an advantage. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for one spouse to take advantage of the other in high net worth divorces, whether through fraudulent concealment or misrepresentation of assets. The strongest defense against unfair spousal support payments is an experienced divorce attorney in Paulding County.
Leave Nothing to Chance—Call Us Today!
At Henrickson & Sereebutra, our legal team has decades of experience helping clients through difficult divorces and other situations involving family law. We owe our success to the personalized, caring approach we take to each case. When it comes to your high net worth divorce, trust a firm that caters to the unique circumstances of each client.
When the stakes are high, do not leave your future to chance. Schedule a free consultation with our Paulding County divorce lawyer and find out how we may help you protect your best interests and secure your financial future!