Common Issues in a High Asset Divorce
Resolving issues in a divorce, especially involving finances, can be challenging and costly in terms of legal fees and emotional involvement but can become even more complex to achieve when high assets are involved.
When one or both spouses are high-income and have high leverage, there is a possibility of hidden assets, whether cash, investments, or other acquisitions. One spouse can use pretend business names and other schemes to sock away wealth from their partner.
If you are facing a divorce with high assets at stake in or around Overland Park, Kansas, contact the Jeffers Law Office. Attorney Mark Jeffers is a family law attorney that has more than four decades of experience in helping couples achieve a mutually acceptable divorce settlement, or if necessary, taking matters to court and achieving the best result possible for his clients.
In addition to Overland Park, the Jeffers Law Office serves clients in Olathe, Lenexa, Shawnee, Leawood, and Prairie Village, Kansas.
What Qualifies as a High Asset Divorce?
A high asset divorce occurs when the value of all property, investments, and other assets totals $1 million or more. With the recent increase in home valuations, a high asset divorce might not be as rare as it once was, but it is nonetheless an issue involving high cash valuations. Factor in that two working professionals may have retirement accounts totaling $500,000 or more each, and it really becomes high stakes.
Division of Assets in a Kansas Divorce
Kansas is an “equitable distribution” state when determining who gets what upon divorce. In other words, joint assets don’t have to be divided 50/50. A court overseeing your divorce would consider the contributions of each spouse in the accumulation of marital assets and the potential earning capacity of each spouse after marriage in making a decision on how to divide assets.
If you and your spouse agree to a division and submit that agreement to the court, the judge will consider the same factors in allowing or modifying the agreement. Unless the agreement is viewed as one-sided, it should be approved.
Determining the Division of Assets Upon Divorce
One of the major problems in a high net-worth divorce is determining if the assets are marital or not. Retirement accounts may have been established prior to the marriage, so not all of the funds socked away may be subject to division upon divorce. There is also the issue of premarital property. If one or the other spouse owned property or had assets prior to tying the knot, those assets can be excluded from a divorce settlement.
However, even premarital property can become commingled. Suppose one spouse owned the rental property prior to getting married but then used marital assets – for instance, money from a joint bank account – to pay for the upkeep of the property, the premarital exemption can become clouded, and the non-owning spouse can be considered a joint or partial owner. This is what is called commingled property.
Prenuptial agreements can also factor into the ultimate division of properties. One spouse may have convinced their spouse-to-be to recognize that certain assets would never become marital property, even the home they would live in, for instance.
Kansas has embraced a variation of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), a set of conditions for prenuptial agreements used by multiple states across the country. The agreement must be in writing, and both prospective spouses must sign it. According to the UPAA, if the prenup was created under established standards, it can be enforced upon divorce.
The Specter of Hidden Assets
When one or both spouses are high-income or high net-worth individuals, they may resort to hiding assets from their spouse, anticipating the possibility of divorce. When divorce does come into focus, you should employ attorneys, accountants, and other professionals to scour public records, tax returns, financial transactions, and other available records to see if assets have been hidden.
Rely on Trusted Legal Assistance
If you are in a high net-worth marriage and divorce looms in or around Overland Park, Kansas, the Jeffers Law Office, and its family law/divorce attorney can help you determine the assets – visible or hidden – that are subject to equitable distribution. Attorney Mark Jeffers will help you achieve an uncontested divorce agreement and if that’s not possible, represent you aggressively in court. Reach out today for a free initial phone conversation.