High net worth divorce cases are often substantially more complex due to the combination of assets, business interests, tax liabilities and pensions that are likely to be involved.
Frequently in a high net worth divorce one or both of the parties may have assets relating to a business including shareholding. Accurate business valuation is crucial to ensure that your settlement properly reflects your entitlement. In many instances it is necessary to appoint experts to assess these financial affairs. We work with proven experts in this field to ensure that when we are preparing your case it is on the most informed basis possible.
There are likely to be a number of tax implications associated with the assets which may arise when assessing your properties, employee contracts and benefits and other assets with financial value, which again require specialist knowledge.
If a pension portfolio exists it is necessary to look at whether the split is fair and consider taking independent advice on future investment.
There may also need to be negotiations regarding whether ‘maintenance’ payments need to be made to either yourself or your spouse over the coming years and whether risk exposure exists for either party.
Getting these aspects right is critical, in order to ensure your assets and interests are protected. High net worth divorces can be long and complex and you need to ensure you work with a solicitor with a proven track record in this field with access to the appropriate experts. We have dealt with many high net worth divorces successfully.
1) How Can I Protect Myself From Financial Claims In The Future?
It is vital you are upfront and honest about your financial circumstances during divorce proceedings to ensure your ex-partner cannot make a successful financial claim against you in the future.
Challenges may arise when one party feels the divorce settlement to be unfair, often because new information has come to light that would have affected the original settlement. If it is found that you were not truthful about your circumstances while your divorce was being agreed, your ex-partner may be able to make a new claim to your assets.
Gathering evidence of your financial circumstances and how you built your wealth – and retaining this information even after the divorce – is a good way to protect yourself.
2) What About My Business?
If you have business interests, this will be a high priority for you and your partner during a divorce. A business is treated as an asset and will be taken into account in a divorce settlement. While every case is different, there are some general points about the way courts deal with businesses.
It is unusual for a business to be sold or broken up as a consequence of judicial separation/divorce. The law prefers a business to be unaffected as much as possible to protect its value and other people involved in it, such as employees. This means that if you are the business owner – or the person in the relationship who primarily runs the shared business – it is likely you will retain it following the divorce.
The business is counted as part of the settlement, however. This means your partner may be awarded more of the other assets – such as investments, cash or property – to make sure the settlement is fair. If there is not enough to meet needs and produce a fair result, then it may be necessary to have recourse to the business.
It can be a complicated process, especially when it comes to valuing businesses and deciphering responsibilities, so you need to ensure you have an expert team on your side.
3) What Should I Do If I Think My Partner Is Hiding Some Of Their Wealth?
It is expected that both parties in a divorce will be frank and open about their financial circumstances.
You are entitled to see and scrutinise all the bank account statements and credit cards statements your spouse has over the past 12 months – sometimes longer if this is justified.
If you think your partner is acting suspiciously, we can help you obtain the right information and review it. Our experience in dealing with complex judicial separation/divorce cases, many of which contain significant financial assets, means we can often spot when a spouse is not being completely honest about their circumstances. If we sense at any point that your partner is not being transparent, we will advise you on your options.