On the surface, divorce proceedings for high net worth couples are the same as other divorces; assets are disclosed, valued and divided. However, what makes them much different is that many of the assets involved are more complicated.
These relationships often contain complex properties and businesses, stock options, high-value possessions, and even intellectual property. With so much at stake, it’s not difficult to understand why many of these divorces involve litigation and acrimony.
How is property divided in Washington?
The Evergreen State is one of the few community property states in the nation, meaning marital property is typically split evenly in divorce. With some exceptions, property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is usually divided equally. Community property includes:
- Both spouses’ earnings during the marriage, including investments, capital gains, retirement accounts and other income
- Property purchased with earnings during the marriage
- Property obtained with community funds
Items generally considered individual property in Washington include belongings purchased before the marriage, inheritances and gifts to one spouse.
Key considerations for a high asset divorce
Consulting an experienced family law attorney can help you achieve the best possible financial outcome and save money in the long run. Your lawyer will review and organize assets and documents, including:
- Trusts and wills
- Pre- and post-nuptial agreements
- Banking and investment statements
- Family-owned or spouse-owned businesses
- Real estate holdings
- Your spouse’s executive compensation
- Homes and vacation properties
- Vehicles such as cars, planes and boats
- Artwork, jewelry and other valuables
It is critical to determine a fair value for all of these assets. Your lawyer will also help determine your future standard-of-living needs, including spousal and child support, and divide retirement assets.
Working together brings many benefits
While many high asset divorces become contentious, both sides can benefit from considering alternatives to litigation. Alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation and collaborative divorce, lowers costs, helps maintain privacy and, most of all, leads to less anxiety for all family members.
Working with an attorney who understands these options can help keep the process move in a positive direction so you can focus on the future.