One of the most difficult aspects of every divorce is separating the parties’ finances, possessions, and obligations. The stakes are considerably higher in Washington for high-asset divorces. In the state of Washington, all property gained by either spouse during their marriage is referred to as “community property.” All earnings, real estate, personal property, equity, intellectual property, and other assets are included in this. All debt incurred throughout the marriage is also included.
Due to the assets involved and their monetary determination, high-asset divorces can be especially challenging. From determining what community property is to tracing down all assets on both sides, a team of experts will need to be assembled. The Washington High Assets Divorce attorneys at Harbor Family Law have the experience and understanding needed to handle a high asset divorce. Contact us today if you are considering a divorce with a sizable estate.
What is a High Asset Divorce Attorney?
High-asset divorces are those in which there are at least $1 million in combined assets, excluding real estate and enterprises. When their principal residence is taken into account, many couples in Washington have estates worth over a million dollars, but only a small percentage have liquid assets worth at least seven figures.
The complexity of a high-asset divorce is poorly understood by the majority of family law attorneys. Working with a lawyer with experience in high asset divorce is crucial if you have amassed a sizable estate and are thinking about or going through a divorce.
A family law attorney who specializes in complex divorces with high-monetary value will be considered a high asset divorce attorney. A high asset divorce lawyer should consider all aspects of your separation and work with your CPAs, Financial Advisors, and other professionals. A qualified high asset attorney will assist you in putting together your team if you are looking for new consultants, particularly if your spouse has been in charge of the financial parts of your marriage.
What Does a High Asset Divorce Attorney Do?
A knowledgeable high-asset divorce lawyer can assist in keeping both your money and your mental health when considering a divorce.
A smart lawyer knows how to create realistic expectations with their client and may help them through the uncertainties of the divorce process. They can also help the client comprehend that what they believe they are entitled to is not necessarily what they are entitled to attain by explaining how the law will affect the specifics of the case. Emotional justice is expensive and frequently impossible to get.
When a wealthy divorcing person feels the want to take hasty action or to settle their case prematurely, a high-asset divorce lawyer will work with their client and advise on the best long-term outcome. Your attorney ought to put out a number of reasonable settlement possibilities.
If you are tempted to make a choice that might be harmful to your future, they can also assist you in asserting your rights and keeping you on course. Additionally, if your spouse is trying to hold you back from receiving what you are entitled to, your high-asset divorce lawyer can look into ways to hold them responsible and advise you on how to prepare for a high-asset divorce.
What is High Asset Divorce?
Couples with substantial assets like a family house, expensive automobiles, and investments like enterprises and retirement accounts frequently have a more complicated divorce. Due to the high value of the assets, high-asset divorces are often more difficult than regular divorces and frequently include a lengthy asset distribution procedure that may involve forensic investigators and assessments of businesses or other assets.
When at least one of the couples owns above $1 million in high-value assets, a high-net-worth divorce frequently occurs. When only one spouse has a better financial situation than the other, these divorces can become very difficult.
High-asset divorces are those in which there is high-valued marital property that is not part of a liquid cash flow. The two usually go hand in hand, so if you want to get a divorce that is fair to you, you will need the advice of an attorney with experience managing cases just like yours.
Facts About High Asset Divorce
Typically, a high-asset divorce is more expensive than the average divorce because of the professionals involved and the amount of time it can take to divide substantial assets. A high-net divorce can include multiple estates, investments, business assets, and other financial assets requiring proper division.
Further, not so shocking is that a high-asset divorce will take longer than a normal divorce. Not only does it take time to divide the assets, but it may take even longer to locate all marital assets. With high asset divorces, it is not uncommon to have multiple accounts, investments, cryptocurrencies, and property and assets across the country or world. It will take time to account for all assets and calculate the value accurately.
Another major aspect of a high asset divorce is distinguishing between marital property and individual property. The law will generally find that any property earned during the lifetime of the marriage is going to be classified as marital property and will be subject to equal division. Though, there are types of property, like an inheritance, that will always remain with the individuals, even if obtained during marriage.
Tax Implications of a High-Asset Divorce
Regardless of the type of divorce, there will be tax implications that both parties should consider. Those going through a divorce will need to pay taxes on the marital assets, some of which may carry an excessive amount.
Tax implications are the number one reason why couples should be clear on what assets they have and, even though it is a divorce, be as clear as possible to one another because there is the option to have assets transferred tax-free between the parties during the divorce process.
Possible tax implications are another reason to contact a complex divorce attorney to help with your high-asset divorce. When parties are unaware of how the process works or rely solely on the word of their spouse, mistakes can happen, which can result in thousands of dollars of taxes.
It is important to understand the divorce process and possible strategies to use the tax code to avoid having to pay additional taxes.
What Not to Do During a High Asset Divorce?
Even though you likely want the process to be over, never try to accelerate the divorce or accept the first settlement offer. Divorces are not easy, but that does not mean you should settle for less than what you are owed.
Settling too quickly can result in paying more than you receive and having greater tax implications. You never want to forget about future implications. It may be easier in the moment to say, “let’s be done.” However, in the future you may come to regret that decision.
Never hide assets from the other spouse, and never assume your spouse is not hiding something from you. It is tempting to hide assets, especially close keepsakes or beloved possessions, or even those possessions of significant assets that you feel belong to you. If the court or other side finds out that you are responsible for hiding assets, it can result in the loss of the right to assets or even jail time. It is illegal to hide assets.
Also, you will never want to go on a spending spree or make large purchases during a divorce in an attempt to dissipate the overall assets. This is not the correct thinking and will not reduce the other party’s split in assets. All property will be included, even property purchased before the divorce is final. If you buy something of high value during the divorce, your spouse is likely getting half.
Navigating a High Asset Divorce
The division of assets is one of the most trying components of a high-asset divorce. Given the high worth of your assets, you might be concerned about making the proper decision, especially if doing so could cause you to lose out on certain financial advantages. Organizing your assets with your attorney is essential for the asset division procedure to go well.
Inform your lawyer right away if you think there was a mistake in the assessment of your assets or if you think one is missing. You and your attorney can consult forensic accountants or other specialists to assess if an asset would be regarded as community property and is actually mislabeled.
A forensic accountant can thoroughly examine all of your financial data to determine the initial purchase or acquisition date of an item to help find crucial information if it goes missing or is incorrectly labeled. Your assets may then be revalued or dispersed according to the work done by the forensic accountant, which may then be presented to the courts. The courts may impose sanctions on one party if it is determined that the party committed fraud by concealing or knowingly disclosing false information about assets.
Distribution of Assets
The division of assets during a high-asset divorce may result in one party receiving the vacation house while another party receives the family home. In other situations, the couple going through a divorce might sell the vacation house for a profit that would then be divided between them. It goes without saying that you might not be able to keep possession of your vacation property if you want to end your divorce with the family house. Your vacation property won’t belong to you when your divorces are finalized unless you specifically state that you want to keep ownership of it.
Your valuable possessions could become less valuable if everything is divided between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. A magnificent jewelry collection or what was once a sizable investment portfolio may now be considerably smaller. You should not anticipate keeping more than half of your present possessions after your divorce.
Washington Divorce Laws Pertaining to High Asset Divorce
Washington does not require that you or your spouse have resided in the state for a specific amount of time before you can petition for divorce, in contrast to many other states. Instead, on the filing date, either of you must be a resident of the state or stationed in Washington as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, according to Washington Code.
You both need to acknowledge that your union is “irretrievably broken.” This is the only legal basis (or “ground”) for divorce that Washington law permits because it is a “no-fault” divorce state. It is not possible to file for divorce due to your spouse’s immoral behavior, such as adultery.
The division of your assets and debts, alimony (also known as “spousal support” in Washington), and, if you have minor children, child support, child custody, and parenting arrangements should all be covered in a marital settlement agreement under Washington law, which is also known as a “separation agreement.” If you do not have an agreement, the divorce will be deemed a contested one and marked down the trial path. Though, the parties have the option to settle at any time.
When applying for divorce in Washington State, you must use the official court forms. The official Washington forms are available for free download, or you can purchase hard copies of the forms from your county courthouse. The petition for divorce is the primary document used to begin the divorce procedure. The petition includes details about your assets, any minor children, the necessity for spousal support, and how you want the court to handle those concerns, similar to divorce complaints in other jurisdictions.
You and your spouse may submit the divorce petition jointly in Washington.
Hiring a Washington High Asset Divorce Lawyer
When going through a high asset divorce, regardless of how agreeable the parties may seem, a complex divorce lawyer is necessary. They can help in settling the case outside of court and help in compiling a list of all assets involved.
Collaborative divorce or divorce mediation can be excellent alternatives, particularly in high-profile, high-asset divorce cases. Both parties are represented by attorneys. However, the negotiations are conducted in private and in confidence outside of court. This will enable you to settle your divorce away from the public eye and prevent the disclosure of private financial information.
No matter how much is on the line, Harbor Family Law can assist you in evaluating your alternatives and pursuing the best divorce outcome. To set up your consultation, get in touch with us today.