Are High-Asset Divorces Really More Complex and Detailed?


Is it just a matter of degree, or does it truly entail singular characteristics that render it fundamentally different?

That query posed immediately above pertains to what is commonly termed “high-asset divorce,” an event/process that commands appreciable space and attention in family law-focused articles and reports.

Discussion on that topic sometimes splits into two camps. On the one hand, some people contend that a divorce featuring comparatively outsized wealth primarily differs from a more common decoupling only in magnitude. That is, it features bigger dollar amounts, but the issues needing to be resolved are essentially the same for every marital dissolution.

There is that other hand, though, and it offers up this opinion: A high-asset divorce typically differs not just in the scope of its assets, but in its very substance.

When it comes to push and shove (actually, it never does reach that point), most industry commentators and writers readily side with the latter view.

To wit: A high-asset marital split is generally quite different from a more modest one in myriad and fundamental ways. One authoritative family law source on high-net-worth divorce underscores, for instance, the “complex and overwhelming filing process” tied to it. It duly notes that an end to marriage marked by significant assets can easily raise many issues within a materially “specialized area of the law.”

What most prominently distinguishes a high-asset divorce?

Select readers of this blog post might find it hard after scanning the above header query to refrain from a threshold answer that it’s obviously the money.

And it is, of course, but it’s also much more than that. An in-depth overview of assets in high-net-worth splits notes that they commonly feature these distinguishing characteristics, as well:

  • The sheer variety of asset types, ranging from bank accounts, investment holdings, and trusts to inheritances, collectibles, gifts, and more
  • Executive-level company perks (e.g., bonuses, a pension, deferred compensation, and stock options)
  • Stake in a family business
  • Multiple realty holdings
  • Intellectual property interests (for example, patent rights or accruing royalties tied to copyright)
  • Assets held in one or multiple offshore accounts

An equitable division of such diverse wealth can first require a considerable amount of due diligence – that is, research and sleuthing. Marital assets must in the first instance be comprehensively identified (a caveat necessarily inserted here: some divorcing spouses are not beyond engaging in bad-faith efforts to hide wealth). Once identified, assets in play must be accurately valued. And then, of course, a fair distribution must ensue.

That can – indeed, it invariably does – take time, effort, and professional acumen to properly oversee and ultimately manage. A seasoned and results-oriented family law legal team well versed in complex divorce can help a valued client secure an optimal divorce result.