High-Asset Divorce

San Diego Attorneys Skilled in Family Law Matters

When you are married, working out your joint goals and priorities, as well as how to successfully manage your finances to achieve those goals, may be a very challenging task. When you decide to divorce, you may find out that working out financial matters with your estranged spouse is even more challenging. Economic planning is only one aspect of marriage, but it makes up a significant part of a divorce, and this is especially true for divorces involving substantial assets. If your spouse and you are contemplating divorce, and you have a high number and value of assets, the San Diego high-asset divorce lawyers at Doppelt and Forney, APLC, can assist you. We have extensive experience helping high-asset couples successfully apportion their property in divorce.

Which Unique Issues Do High-Asset Divorces Raise?

California is one of only nine community property states in the U.S. In these states, all community property is owned by the spouses in exactly equal shares.

“Community property” is property acquired during the marriage from income earned during the marriage, regardless of which spouse earned the income. In contrast, “separate property” is property owned by only one spouse. Generally speaking, separate property is property acquired by one spouse before the marriage or after the separation, during the marriage if purchased with separate assets, or during the marriage through gift or inheritance.

To complicate matters, separate property may change its character if the spouses commingle separate and community property, such as by depositing separate funds in a joint account, and community property may become separate property by express gift. Furthermore, if the spouses have earned income in both community property and non-community property states or acquired property there, they will need to determine which property is subject to community property principles. A high-asset divorce attorney in San Diego can help spouses sort through these complicated issues.

In the absence of an express agreement to the contrary, such as a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, all community property is split down the middle upon a divorce. This split may be actual, such as dividing bank account funds equally, or the spouses may allocate assets separately, provided that each ends up with a share of assets equal to half of the total value.

In high-asset divorces, the issue of valuation may become very complicated, not least because assets may take a variety of forms, such as:

  • Partial or total ownership of an ongoing business or partnership;
  • Stocks, mutual funds, and bonds;
  • Deferred compensation and stock options;
  • Pensions, retirement accounts, and other retirement vehicles and investments;
  • Residential and commercial real estate holdings;
  • Foreign real estate and investments;
  • Multiple vehicles (cars, boats, airplanes, or motorcycles); and
  • Artwork, collectible artifacts, jewelry, coins, or other collections.

Each asset must be characterized as separate, quasi community, or community property, and a value must be established for each asset as well.

However, for assets that have fluctuating or indeterminate values, there are different methodologies available for valuation that, when applied to a given asset, may yield results that widely diverge. Consequently, while both spouses have an interest in achieving an accurate valuation in order to make sure that they each obtain their full share in any division of assets, trouble and discord often emerge when it comes to the allocation of a broad number and variety of assets. Each spouse has an incentive to undervalue the assets that they want to keep and overvalue assets that their spouse wants to keep in order to acquire a greater share of any offsetting asset value.

Contact a Knowledgeable High-Asset Divorce Lawyer in San Diego

For high-asset couples, a final property settlement may have far-reaching consequences that affect the long-term economic stability and net worth of each spouse. For thorough advice on asset division that adequately and accurately accounts not only for present value but also for potential tax ramifications and your financial security, contact the San Diego high-asset divorce attorneys at Doppelt and Forney toll-free at 800.769.4748, or use our online form to set up a free consultation. We also represent people who need a child custody lawyer in San Diego and surrounding communities, such as Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Encinitas, La Jolla, Oceanside, Escondido, Ramona, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, Valley Center, and Vista.

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