Spouses in a high-asset divorce may be facing additional hurdles and a longer battle than conventional divorces. With a lot more money at stake, spouses may be more likely to fight over every aspect of the separation. Even in marriages with a prenuptial agreement, the other spouse may challenge the validity of the contract.
An important aspect of finding the right lawyer to handle your high-asset divorce is an attorney who will advise you of all your options and fight to get you what you deserve. If you have questions about high-asset divorces, contact your North Carolina family law attorney today.
In a high-asset divorce, a judge may award alimony or spousal support to the dependent spouse. This could represent a large monthly payment the other spouse needs to make for years to come. There are a number of factors that a judge may consider in deciding whether to award alimony, including:
- Marital misconduct,
- Contributions of the spouse,
- Relative earning capacity,
- Total amount of income,
- Duration of the marriage,
- Assets and liability,
- Property, and
- Standard of living of parties for the duration of the marriage.
Alimony payments may be required for a term of years until the dependent spouse becomes self-sufficient, or until the dependent spouse remarries. Talk to your North Carolina divorce attorney about alimony options in your divorce and how to get the best outcome.
Child Support in High-Asset Divorce
Parents in North Carolina are required to financially support their minor children, which continues after a divorce or separation. Child support is generally based on North Carolina's child support guidelines but the court uses other ways to determine support where parents have high combined incomes. High combined income involves a combined adjusted gross income of more than $30,000 per month or $360,000 per year.
In determining the supporting parent's basic child support obligation, the court will set an amount to “meet the reasonable needs of the child for health, education, and maintenance, having due regard to the estates, earnings, conditions, accustomed standard of living of the child and the parties, the childcare and homemaker contributions of each party, and other facts of the particular case.”
Hidden Assets in a Divorce
In a high-asset divorce, one spouse may be more likely to attempt to hide certain assets and keep them out of the marital property. Hidden assets before a divorce can be difficult to find and may require an investigation and review of tax returns and other materials to track down any assets, money, collectibles, or other things of value that are sought to be excluded. If you suspect your spouse may be transferring money, making payments to a third party, or deferring compensation specifically for the divorce, talk to your North Carolina divorce attorney.
Business Assets in a Divorce
Many high-asset divorces involve business assets, including one spouse who owns or runs a company or number of businesses. There may be a lot of money tied up in these business assets that can be put the company at risk if they are divided up in a divorce. Separating, valuing, and dividing business assets requires special treatment in a divorce and should be handled by experienced attorneys who understand the complex nature of business assets in a high-asset divorce.
Pensions and Retirement Accounts
Pensions and retirement accounts may also represent a significant source of savings after a divorce. During the marriage, the spouses may have been planning to share in the retirement savings. However, after a divorce, when the retirement savings are divided, the seemingly ample savings may not be enough to allow an individual spouse to retire comfortably.
With the expenses involved in a divorce, it can be tempting for individuals to tap into retirement savings to cover living expenses during the separation. However, paying out of retirement savings can subject an individual to taxes and early withdrawal penalties. Early withdrawal fees can be avoided if a judge in a divorce settlement orders payment out of a 401(k).
Challenging the Prenuptial Agreement
A prenuptial agreement is supposed to provide for how to handle certain assets, property, and support after a divorce. These are written contracts entered into before marriage where the individuals agree to terms of how to separate or divide expenses, debts, property, and other assets. In general, these agreements will be treated as valid and enforced by the divorce court.
One spouse may challenge the validity of a premarital or postnuptial agreement in a divorce. Grounds for finding the agreement invalid or unenforceable may include:
- The agreement was forged,
- The agreement was entered into under force or duress,
- There are invalid provisions in the agreement,
- The agreement is unenforceable based on public policy, or
- One party falsely represented information.
Does a High-Asset Divorce Have to Be Contested?
Just because a divorce involves a lot of financial assets does not mean that it has to be contentious or even contested. Couples can save a lot of time, grief, and money by coming to an agreement before going to court to get a divorce. This can be beneficial when there are children involved, the couple still has a business in common, or the couple would like to remain on good terms after the separation.
There are a number of options for divorce beyond fighting it out in court. A couple may be able to come to an agreement to most of the major terms of the divorce through agreement, negotiation, or compromise. An uncontested divorce is generally handled quickly and inexpensively in North Carolina.
Collaborative divorce is an increasingly common way for couples to go through a divorce without having to go to court. In a collaborative divorce, the couple can negotiate the terms of the separation, maintain control over the final decisions, save time and money, and the process can be kept private. This can be the best option for individuals who want to keep their financial information out of the public record.
Divorce Attorneys in Shelby, North Carolina
If you have any questions about a high-asset divorce in North Carolina, contact the experienced divorce attorneys at Caulder & Valentine Law Firm, PLLC. Contact us online or by phone at 704-470-2440 today for a consultation.