Things to Consider Before Pursuing a High-Asset Divorce
Nearly every divorce will result in one party feeling a bit of spite. If one party does not, it is safe to assume that the other party is the one nursing a bit of bitterness or feelings of betrayal. Individuals are well served to acknowledge that there is a possibility that one party may have the motive to be a little less than transparently honest and helpful while dividing assets during the divorce process. Special note should be taken by individuals who have high-value assets to divide, as the division of these assets may be a little different from the process we are familiar with from t.v. and movies. The more you know, the more empowered you become.
With that in mind, this article is to help those who anticipate they will go through a high-asset divorce. As you set down this path, consider these key items.
California Community Property Law
As many are aware, California operates under the community property law system. In practice, this means that marital property is divided down the middle when a couple divorces. However, there are several important exceptions to the community property rule that you need to remember moving forward.
Pre-nuptial and Post-nuptial Agreements
Did you sign a pre-nup? What about a post-nup? If a legally valid agreement exists, the language of that agreement is contractually binding. If a pre-nup or post-nup is a part of your marriage, then review those terms carefully, as it can drastically affect what you are entitled to walk away with.
If you believe that the pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement is not valid or should be considered invalid for some reason (was entered into under improper duress, for instance), discuss your concerns with an experienced attorney. There could be a possibility of challenging the validity of the agreement in court, which could lead to the agreement being tossed out.
Date of Separation
Determining the date of separation can be an incredibly strategic move for individuals considering a divorce. The date of separation is defined by California law as the date that a complete and final break in the marital relationship occurs. Accepted evidence of this occurrence could include testimony that this was the date that one partner told the other that they wanted a divorce and that partner then acted consistently with the intent to divorce.
Any income that is earned after the date of separation is not considered to be marital property. Because it is not marital property, but separate property, it will not be subject to the rules of community property division. This means that any income earned by one will be retained by that party alone – including salary, bonuses, fringe benefits, and any assets bought with the proceeds of that income.
Dividing Complex Assets
High-asset divorces will likely include the division of more than simple cash funds or property. Remember that you may also need to divide: that you put your best foot forward, it is very important to consult with an experienced property division attorney on the potential of dividing several items, including:
- Equity Compensation
- Restricted stock units (RSUs), or other stock options, such as incentive stock or employee stock purchase plans
- Inheritances (if co-mingled with marital assets)
Contact the Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler
Divorce and property division can be complex. Engage with an experienced divorce attorney who can advise you on the nuances of your case and help you come to the best possible resolution of your divorce action. Contact the Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler today.