Many divorces have surprisingly few assets to divide in this day and age. Couples may execute a prenuptial agreement to do that preemptively, or they may simply keep most of their assets separate. However, when a couple has high-value assets to distribute, or if there are shared assets with high dollar values, a more experienced divorce lawyer may be required in order to obtain an appropriate divide.
The majority of states in the country have established divorce laws that follow an equitable distribution doctrine, meaning that all marital property is distributed according to the court’s determination, based on a list of relevant factors. Equitable is not the same as equal; marital property is almost never divided into exactly equal parts (especially when high-value assets are involved) because there are usually too many assets to divide to be able to offset each one equally. The only two states that do not follow this doctrine are California and Texas. These two states divide marital assets via community property – which is a 50/50 division.
Equitable distribution makes it somewhat easier to divide or dispose of high-value assets, simply because each person’s portion of the marital estate does not have to be equal. For example, a custodial parent of four children may be awarded most or all of a couple’s investment portfolio, simply because the custodial parent will require more assets and support in order to keep the children in an appropriate manner.
Prioritize What You Want
High-value assets are not always those that cost the most, but the assets that are the most difficult to include in an equitable distribution will generally be those with the highest dollar value. Examples that may fit this category under the law include family-owned businesses, stock portfolios, overseas assets, fine art, automobiles, and the like – assets that have a high dollar value and may also have sentimental attachment value as well.
The most important thing to keep in mind when attempting to negotiate or argue for possession of a certain high-value asset is that it will be offset. You must be willing to relinquish claims to other assets in order to wholly possess another unless that asset has been disposed of via a prenuptial (or postnuptial) agreement. This is often the case with family businesses, also called closely held corporations; very often, a business will be specifically discussed in a prenuptial agreement for the express purpose of avoiding a drawn-out battle in divorce court.
Contact a Family Law Firm for Legal Assistance
When you and your spouse have high-value assets to dispose of, it is generally a good idea to consult an attorney before attempting to do so, lest one of you wind up with the unfairly short end of the proverbial stick. Call an experienced attorney, like a divorce lawyer from a law firm like The Law Office of Daniel E. Stuart, P.A.