Becoming wealthy and successful in the tech industry is a dream for many Washington residents, but it takes years of hard work. If you have achieved that goal and found success against all odds, it may feel like nothing can possibly stand in your way now.
That is, unless you find yourself dealing with the ramifications of divorce.
High-stakes legal matters
While many think of Silicon Valley when it comes to tech giants, Seattle is home to many high-profile IT companies that include AT&T, Amazon, and Microsoft. The Emerald City is also known for contentious divorces between couples where millions, if not billions of dollars, are at stake.
Establishing and working in a startup brings tremendous pressure, particularly in the early stages. Success is a rarity. Many new companies in this industry do not survive while a select few thrive. The stress and long hours required to pursue success in this highly competitive industry can wreak havoc on any marriage.
Washington is a community property state. According to the law, any assets acquired during the span of a marriage belong to both spouses equally. That includes interests in startups established while married, whether both spouses were involved or not. Someone who is in the midst of selling their company or launching an initial public offering (IPO) while going through a divorce could quickly see their profits divided in two.
Tech savviness does not help in court
With such a strong concentration on your industry of choice, it’s probably safe to say that you don’t consider yourself to be a legal expert. Whether you invented cutting-edge apps or developed popular software or games, you likely do not have a deep understanding of Washington’s unique divorce laws. However, asset division should be of particular concern to you while going through the divorce process. It’s common for successful tech professionals to earn significant compensation, in addition to perks like stock options, bonuses and other financial incentives.
Many IT specialists and tech employees enjoy the freedom that comes with the ability to work from home. They can be anywhere in the world and still be able to ply their respective trades. However, that flexibility clashes with custody-related matters when it comes to moving to another state or country. Even those who stay in their home state and work long hours in the office can have their quality time with their children impacted. Approaching your divorce and custody terms with your spouse should be done with great care.
The need for legal counsel
For most marriages, starting out with an ironclad prenuptial agreement in place is the exception, not the rule. If divorce unexpectedly enters your life — an unfortunately common occurrence among tech professionals — you may feel unprepared and out of your element. Significant amounts of hard-earned wealth could be at stake.
Not just any attorney can take on the complexities of asset division that come from working in the technology industry. A family law attorney with experience in high-asset division can help you through this complicated process, so you can move on to the next chapter of your life.