How to Protect Assets in High-Net Worth Divorce

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A divorce can be just as draining on your bank account as it is on your emotions. A newly divorced couple is often very concerned about finances and will turn to a financial advisor to help minimize conflict. Even if the reasons for a split may be amicable, the methods of dividing the assets may not be. When it comes to equitable distribution among couples – especially high-net worth couples – there are details to know before approaching the negotiation table. This includes the value of:

  • Your client’s spouse's earnings.
  • Family assets.
  • Retirement accounts, such as 401k, 403b, and IRA.
  • Non-qualified investments, like stocks (and those not in a retirement account).
  • Future pensions.
  • Family debt, like a personal loan or mortgage.

Conducting a thorough asset and debt inventory will enable a divorce attorney to secure the amount your client deserves – whether they are the family's primary earner or the less-monied spouse. Matters can get trickier depending on your client’s age, the length of their marriage and the professional achievements of each spouse.

Amid an overall decline in the divorces, one particular age group is experiencing a dramatic rise in marital breakdowns – baby boomers. As a family and matrimonial lawyer, I've seen, “the gray divorce revolution” firsthand, as an increasing number of people more than 50 years old are calling it quits.

My professional experience mirrors the hard data. According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, “[t]he divorce rate among adults ages 50 and older doubled between 1990 and 2010.” It has largely remained this way for the past decade, as well. One in four people getting divorced is 50 or older. And in many of the matters my firm has handled, these folks have accumulated substantial wealth.

Whether they were business owners, beneficiaries or simply saved wisely during their careers and have hefty pensions or retirement plans, their finances are at stake amid a divorce. We have represented parties on both sides of divorces and can offer some additional, practical tips for those divorcing later in life.