In a lot of ways, divorces between couples who have a lot of income or own a lot of property work the same as any other divorce. In a New Jersey divorce proceeding, unless the couple can agree, the court will divide their property in a way that the court finds fair. The court may also award alimony.
If the couple has minor children, the court will enter orders for child support, custody and parenting time.
However, even though the laws and processes are the same, several issues tend to impact high-asset couples more so than couples of more modest means.
For high net worth couples, these issues can legally be complicated and can lead to disputes. This is one reason why someone who is wealthy and going through a divorce will want to be sure they understand their options.
Here are just a few considerations:
Property division is much more complicated
High net worth couples tend not only to have more property but also to have property which is much harder to identify and value.
For example, many people make their fortunes through a privately-held business or professional practice. It will usually require an expert to place a value on a privately-held business, and actually splitting the value of the business can involve some complex financial transactions.
On a related point, couples of high net worth may also have invested in other property that is hard to value, like classic cars, jewelry or art and other collectibles.
A couple’s income can be a source of contention with respect to child support
High net worth couples also tend to make their income from a number of sources aside from jobs that pay a predictable amount.
Their employment may involve bonuses and other perks which come in to play when calculating child support or, for that matter, setting alimony.
Likewise, many people with a lot of income earn it irregularly, through investments or profits from their businesses. These calculations are rarely simple, and a couple may disagree about how much income they or their spouses make.
Tax considerations may matter more in high net worth divorces
Because they are more likely to have investment property, a couple with a high net worth will likely have more concerns about their tax liability following a divorce.
Generally, properly transferred property in a divorce does not trigger the federal capital gains tax. However, if a person later disposes of the property, they may have to pay capital gains tax.
Other tax concerns may apply as well.