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High Asset and High Income: Divorce in San Diego Superior Court Including Legal Separation: 2015


In many respects, a high asset case in a divorce or legal separation are the same. Custody and visitation and parenting plans are not decided by who has more money and the San Diego Superior Court Judge will use the disso master program to calculate support so that the child or children are provided for. However, if the payor is an exceptionally high earner, the guideline may be higher that the needs of the minor children or child. In addition, while spousal support is ordered in cases other than high income, the Judge may not use the guideline if it is above need of the supported spousal and/or marital standard of living. For example, if a high earning spouses monthly income is $100,000 per month and the other spouse makes $5,000 per month and no children [under the 2015 disso master printout with no other factors considered], guideline temporary {pendente lite} spousal support would be over $30,000 per month. If the need of the supported spouse is $10,000 per month, then a legal argument can be made that the spousal support should not exceed the need. In addition, if the marital standard of living was not high, then this also can be considered. This does not divide the income one half each and, under this analysis, the high wage earner would have 59.4% of the spendable net income and the supported spouse would have 40.6% of the net spendable income. In addition, high asset cases may also bring legal issues such as: are restricted stock units pre and post separation considered community property and what is the different between vested and non vested stock options whether pre or post date of separation. A major difference may also be tax implications in the sale of real estate or business entities and/or their division in a divorce. Discover may also need to be expanded in high asset cases and/or there may need to be a protective order. Discovery may need to include written interrogatories, production of documents, request for admissions, subpoena, depositions, requests for examination and requests for inspection among others. There is also considerations with multiple residences or business entities as well.


In high asset cases, the use of a forensic certified public accountant can be very useful especially if one spouse is claiming any separate property credits. Tracing separate property claims through the years and multiple real estate and other transfers and transactions, can be overwhelming to both the spouse and spouse’s attorney and expert advice is often needed. Many high asset cases [both spouses] prefer not to litigate their case in a public forum [such as the San Diego Superior Court] and prefer alternative dispute resolution. ADR can include mediation as well as the Special Master appointment. Mediators include, but are certainly not limited to the following: Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Service; Judicate West; National Conflict Resolution Center and there are many private attorneys who mediate cases. A Special Master can mediate but can also make written recommendations so, if no settlement, then the recommendations can be presented to a Judge. There is also an option of a private trial. There are also parenting facilitators who can help with complex parenting plans and also financial advisers who can assist with financial planning both pre and post divorce or legal separation.


The law firm of Doppelt and Forney, APLC have represented both high assets and high wage earning spouses and also represented the spouse who did not have the high income or high assets and has experience on both sides. Their law office can also assist with providing third party experts and analyzing your case in a free in-person or virtual consultation at their office with an attorney. Please feel free to contact their office to set up your confidential appointment and they are conveniently located right off the I-15 at Bernardo Center Drive.

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