Even under normal circumstances, divorce can be difficult. However, when a high level of income and assets is involved, complications can increase. If you are a high-net-worth individual going through divorce, you deserve a Los Angeles family law attorney with the skills and experience necessary to handle your case with professionalism and utmost privacy. You need a highly trained divorce attorney in issues such as support obligations, valuation of businesses and other properties, complex taxation and other revocable or irrevocable trusts, premarital agreements, knowledge of tax ramification, restricted stock, Qualified Domestic Relations Orders and complex property distributions.
Protecting Your Family’s Best Interests & Privacy
A Beverly Hills divorce attorney can support you through every aspect of the divorce process, ensuring your interests are always protected. From preparing and submitting a divorce application to dealing with the complexities of divorce settlements involving high value and making arrangements for children, we provide an exceptional service that makes high net worth divorce as easy as possible.
Child Custody Concerns in High Profile Divorce
If you or your spouse are going through a high profile divorce, it is important to know that your children are amongst your most valuable assets, so you should seek and secure legal counsel as early as possible. Being honest with your ex-spouse is a great first step to minimizing the disruption to your children’s lives. No matter what you decide, creating a custody and visitation schedule and order should be a priority, both for the sake of your child and for helping move your divorce proceedings along. Taking this issue off the table as early as possible will help you and your ex-spouse come to the table to resolve the remaining issues.
When granting judgements for child custody, courts are guided by the following factors:
- Which parent is the primary caregiver?
- Is the parent psychologically and physically capable of raising the child?
- What is the quality of the relationships between the child and the parent, siblings, and others who may have access to the child?
- Is there a prior custody and visitation agreement?
- What is the child’s preference (depending on the child’s age and/or maturity)?
- Does the parent have a history of abusing or neglecting the child?
Extraordinary Income and Child Support
For high-net-worth parents, child support can present some unique challenges during the divorce process. This is because both (i) one or both parents’ incomes may far exceed the income levels contemplated by California’s Child Support Guidelines, and (ii) one or both parents may wish to address expenses that fall outside of the realm of traditional child support payments. Fortunately, California law addresses these contingencies, and parents who have access to significant financial resources have several options for addressing child support and other child-related costs during their divorce.
For most parents, determining their child support obligations is a relatively straightforward matter of applying a formula established under California’s Child Support Guidelines. However, as this formula establishes a direct correlation between parents’ incomes and their child support obligations, for high-earning parents, application of the formula can lead to disproportionate and unnecessary financial responsibilities.
To address this issue, the state guidelines provide an exception for parents who earn “extraordinarily high income,” such that, “the amount determined under the formula would exceed the needs of the children.” What constitutes an extraordinarily high income is relative and must be determined on a case-by-case basis considering the family’s total income, lifestyle, and child-related expenses.
Court-mandated child support is intended to cover necessary child-related expenses, which includes necessities like food, clothing, education, recreation, and health care insurance premiums. In appropriate circumstances, parents can also establish child support obligations regarding child care expenses, uninsured health care costs, travel expenses related to parenting time, and special educational needs.
For high-net-worth parents these types of expenses will often just scratch the surface of the amount of money they spend on their children. Many high-net-worth parents also pay for things like:
- Private tutoring
- Private lessons
- Extracurricular activities
- Travel sports
- Live-in childcare care providers
These are all costs that may not be covered by the guideline amount. However, during the divorce process, high-net-worth parents can address these costs through other means. Parents have a significant amount of flexibility to structure payment obligations outside of traditional child support, and parents can also utilize trusts and other planning tools to ensure that money for child-related expenses will be available. Ultimately, the key is to avoid focusing on the limitations of California’s Child Support Guidelines, and instead focus on developing an arrangement that meets your needs and those of your children.
Spousal Support Considerations in High-Net-Worth Divorce
There may be no need to address alimony if both parties in a high-income case make substantial incomes. However, still in many instances and especially in long term marriages, there was one primary earner and one spouse who remained at home to care for the house and the children. Courts must state the reason for their denial or award of alimony or spousal support and the amount of any award given. For purposes of receiving alimony, some forms of cohabitation after the divorce will result in a bar on the award. If the court approves an agreement for alimony payment voluntarily entered by the parties, it will constitute an order of the court for enforcement purposes. Relevant factors include:
- relative earnings and earning capacities
- the ages and mental, physical, and emotional conditions of the parties
- sources of income
- marriage duration
Complex Property Division
While issues such as child custody and visitation may be the most emotional components of a divorce action, complex property division is often one of the most complicated and contentious. California is a community property state, not an equitable distribution state, which means that any assets or property gained during the course of a marriage belong equally to both spouses and, therefore, the property must be equally divided between the two spouses by the court in a divorce.
Discrete Legal Reputation for Entertainers, Athletes and Celebrities
One of the unique issues facing wealthy individuals, high profile clients and celebrities is the fact that their divorce may be more public than a typical divorce case. Celebrities, entertainers, prominent business owners, social elites and other well-known members of the community can be considered public figures that are regularly reported on and their marital issues may soon become the target of journalists. An award-winning Beverly Hills divorce lawyer with years of experience representing high profile and celebrity clients can discuss what strategies may be implemented to minimize unwanted attention and to protect their privacy.
Speak with a Beverly Hills Divorce Attorney Today
If you are in the middle of a high net worth divorce, do not hesitate to contact an experienced Beverly Hills and Los Angeles divorce attorney. The Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler will work tirelessly to ensure you receive the result you deserve. Contact our office online or by calling 310-246-3900 today for your initial free consultation.