Hingham, MA family law attorney Jason V. Owens explains what makes a divorce “high net worth” and the challenges that come with handling those cases.
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So high net worth divorce is something that we often define as clients who have assets in excess of $5 million and income in excess of $500,000 a year. There are a variety of challenges with high net worth divorce, including complex assets that we have to first discover and then valuate. This can include anything from business assets to offshore bank accounts to pieces of real estate in faraway places that we have to value, and we often have to hire experts in order to discover assets, determine their values and make a report to the court so the court understands what exists and what needs to be divided. At the same time, these assets present challenges in terms of how to divide the assets, how to avoid tax problems and how to arrange the division of assets in a way that’s fair to both parties. High net worth divorce also includes challenges involving income for asset and child support purposes. We have to take a good, hard look at high-earning individuals to determine if their self-employment income is fully reported and what their income is for support purposes. We also have to analyze the lifestyle of the parties during the marriage, particularly in alimony cases, to determine the need for alimony.