Navigating High-Asset Divorce in Massachusetts

Divorce can be challenging, regardless of what’s at stake. When the divorce includes a sizeable net worth or high assets, the stakes can be higher than average, making accuracy and creative strategies imperative.

Emotions can be high in any divorce regarding fragile topics such as child custody or alimony, and with business interests or complex investment options, divorce attorneys have challenges to overcome.

By working with a well-versed team in navigating high-asset divorces, you can rest assured that all angles will be thoroughly investigated, and a winning strategy can be formed to help you conquer the challenges in this chapter of your life and move forward.

Read on to learn more.

What is Equitable Distribution and What Can it Mean for My Divorce?

Equitable distribution is the principle that the state of Massachusetts follows in divorce cases. What this means is that courts will view assets and other relevant details of net worth and divide them equitably between parties rather than split down the middle.

Barring a few exceptions, marital property is assets acquired during a marriage, regardless of which spouse acquired the asset. A typical example that comes up time and again in divorce cases is the family home. Regardless of whose name the house may be in, it can be considered a marital asset, meaning it will need to be divided following the equitable distribution strategy.

Other assets included in the equitable distribution are bank accounts, furniture, art, vehicles, property, or other assets that were acquired when the couple was married.

On the contrary, separate assets are those that were acquired before the marriage by one spouse or the other. Typically, these assets are not included in equitable distribution. Some examples may consist of a vehicle or other assets purchased before the marriage or an inheritance or gifts given to one spouse or the other unless the asset is jointly held.

Factors Considered By the Courts

Several factors are considered by the courts where equitable distribution is concerned. Factors include how long the couple was married, the nature or acquisition of the property, the contributions of each party to the marriage financially, and more.

Courts will want to determine how to level the playing field between spouses rather than leaving either party in financial distress. In many cases, one of the spouses is considered the breadwinner while the other works less or stays at home to raise the family. In this case, the non-breadwinner may still be entitled to equitable distribution as their contribution was significant regardless of financial status.

Properly Identifying the Value of Assets

Accurately defining the value of each asset in a high-asset divorce can change the trajectory of both parties for the rest of their lives. In any divorce, accuracy is essential, but with high-asset divorces, this task becomes even more imperative.

For example, if the value of an asset is incorrectly calculated, it can mean that one spouse walks away with a disproportionately higher net worth. Antiques, artwork, significant real estate, or unique vehicles can be commonplace in high-asset divorces, so your attorney must have experience in these specific assets and how to value them appropriately.

Business Interests

High-asset divorces often include owning a business or having a significant interest in one. Attorneys must have extensive knowledge in valuing the business assets or the interest in a company and sufficiently protect the value.

Options such as selling the business and dividing the assets between parties, becoming co-owners, or negotiating a buyout from one party or the other are essential to employ to ensure that both parties are fairly represented and not left at a significant financial disadvantage.

What About the Tax Implications for High-Asset Divorces?

With high assets comes higher taxes at stake. A different tax bracket, for example, is typically involved and must be thoroughly reviewed to determine what each party will be faced with following the divorce.

For example, if both parties agree to the division of assets but don’t consider what tax implications the assets may mean, they could put themselves at a financial disadvantage they aren’t prepared to afford.

Skilled attorneys can properly analyze the tax implications and prepare their clients for what this means for them and how to plan for it properly.

How Can My Attorney Assist Me?

Experienced and competent attorneys are well-versed in areas such as adequately calculating asset value, determining tax implications, aggressively pursuing fair and precise equitable distribution, and more.

Experts can be relied on to ensure that obscure or unique assets are correctly valued, business assets are not overlooked, any inheritances are reviewed for how they were acquired or held, and more.

From a proactive approach, our extensively experienced team of attorneys can also work with you to determine whether a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement would be of value to you and how to pursue that to protect yourself and your financial standing in the future.

Another aspect to consider in any divorce, but especially in those with high assets, is that both parties are transparent in divulging their assets. Parties can try to minimize or hide the actual value of marital assets to minimize losing half their value. Experienced attorneys can employ experts to audit the other parties’ financial status and assets to determine if they may be hiding or minimizing significant assets.

Financial disclosures, investment documents, or business assets may be difficult for most of us to understand, but a skilled and experienced divorce attorney knows what to look for and can help navigate the complexities that may arise.

Contact our team today at (781) 531-8673 for your free case evaluation and to learn more about your options.