Snohomish High Asset Divorce Lawyers
Attorney Walton Dabney Helps Washington Couples Navigate Complex Property Issues In Divorce
Every divorce raises one big question: How will the divorcing spouses divide their property?
Questions of property division are often contentious. When a divorcing couple has complex assets, these questions also become complicated. Deciding how to split a family business or a closely-held corporation raises business and tax questions in addition to questions about the divorce process.
If you’re considering divorce and your assets are complex, talk to an experienced Washington high-asset divorce lawyer today. The team at Dabney Law Firm is here to help sort out your complex assets.
What is a High Asset Divorce?
A high-asset divorce is one in which one or both divorcing spouses have considerable assets. Common types of assets that must be considered in a high-asset divorce include:
- Real estate, including not only the family’s primary home but also additional homes, vacation properties, and rental units.
- Personal property, which may include collections of valuable items like fine art, jewelry, automobiles, and similar objects.
- Bank accounts and other financial assets, like bonds.
- Investment accounts, including retirement accounts, IRAs, stock portfolios, and similar assets.
- Business assets, which may include one or more family-owned or closely-held businesses.
Washington is a community property state. Generally speaking, both assets and debts acquired during the marriage are considered the property of both spouses. Exceptions, or “separate property,” include assets and debts acquired before marriage or after separation. A gift or inheritance given to one spouse during the marriage may also be classified as separate property.
Washington courts seek to divide marital property equitably, leaving each spouse on roughly equal footing once the marriage ends. Several factors may affect how this balance is struck.
Challenges Unique to High-Asset Divorce Situations
High-asset divorces pose several challenges that may not arise in a smaller, more streamlined property division situation.
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
Many high-asset couples may have already created a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. These agreements set guidelines for how property should be distributed if the couple later decides to divorce.
Washington courts examine the contents of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to ensure the terms abide by state laws. If the agreement is legally enforceable, a court will likely enforce its terms unless doing so would create an undue hardship for one spouse. Washington courts are allowed to deviate from a prenuptial agreement if the goal is to enforce the state’s community property laws or its restrictions on abusive behavior… yes, this determination is as subjective as it sounds! If you have an agreement already in place regarding your relationship, you need a skilled attorney to either 1. Attack its vulnerable points to reduce its power over your future. OR 2. Defend it from attack, preventing assets from moving around in the break-up. Many people in this situation are surprised to learn which of these two sides they end up on.
Identifying Separate and Community Property
For couples with extensive and complex assets, identifying which property is considered separate and community property can pose a challenge. When one spouse acquires money, financial instruments, or valuables during a marriage, are those items technically owned by both spouses? Under what terms were the items acquired? How did the spouses treat them?
Untangling separate property from community property may take more effort. In some cases, the answer is not as simple as seeing which spouse’s name is on a title. Yet accurately categorizing property is essential to a fair, just, and equitable property division decision.
Business Continuation or Dissolution
Many high-net-worth couples have considerable assets engaged in one or more family businesses or closely-held corporations. When a couple decides to divorce, they must consider the future of their businesses as well as their individual plans.
Some divorcing spouses discover that they can continue to work together as business colleagues even if they choose to no longer continue their marriage. In these instances, continuing the business may be the best option.
Other spouses decide the best course of action is to dissolve a business or divest their interests in it. They may also need to consider the legal interests of others, such as additional shareholders, when making the decision.
In both situations, an experienced high worth divorce attorney’s help can ensure your business interests are protected and your divorce proceeds smoothly.
Identifying All Relevant Assets
For high-net-worth couples, simply identifying all their assets can be a challenge. Identifying assets to be split in the property division agreement is an essential first step toward an equitable division of the couple’s assets.
Assets that high-net-worth couples may overlook during the divorce process include the following:
- Retirement and pension plans and agreements;
- Stock options in addition to stock ownership;
- Executive compensation, commissions, and bonuses;
- Artwork, jewelry, and other personal items of value;
- Lines of credit and credit reward programs; and
- Airline miles.
An experienced high net worth divorce attorney can help you ensure you’ve accounted for all your assets in a property agreement.
Contact Dabney Law Firm’s High Asset Divorce Lawyers Today
High-asset divorce raises complex questions about finances, tax implications, inheritances, and more. No couple with complex assets should risk creating an unfair or unworkable property division plan by choosing not to speak to an experienced lawyer.
Attorney Walton Dabney is dedicated to helping clients navigate high-asset divorce with compassion and precision. To learn more, contact the Dabney Law Firm today to schedule a consultation by calling 425-488-5809 or through our online form.
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Dabney Law Firm can help you disregard the default and chart your own path. We help people customize their relationships. Write your own vows, your own rules, your own plan.