How Are Real Estate and Investments Handled in a High Asset Divorce?
While divorce proceedings often bring up many concerns for both parties, one of the most contested issues is the division of a couple’s assets. The property concerns of spouses with substantial net worth can be particularly challenging to resolve given the magnitude of the assets involved. As such, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to how real estate and investments are handled in a high asset divorce.
Because Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state, how the court divides certain assets depends on what the Judge considers fair based on the situation. Although most asset divisions end up being a 50/50 divide, equitable does not always mean that assets will be allocated equally.
If you need help maneuvering the complexities of a high asset divorce, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney. Because our dedicated team has over 25 combined years of exclusive family law experience, we have an extensive background in divorce matters involving high net worth couples. An attorney from our firm can safeguard your property rights and investments during the entire divorce process and explain your legal options at every stage.
Common Types of Real Estate and Investments Involved in High Asset Divorce Cases
Divorce cases involving high net worth individuals commonly include multiple properties, a substantial investment portfolio, and a minimum of $1M in liquid assets. Common forms of real estate and investments that may be involved in high asset divorce cases include:
- Family businesses
- Family homes owned by the couple
- Commercial and residential real estate investment properties
- Vested or unvested stocks
- Restricted stock units
- Money markets
- Deferred compensation plans
These assets must be accounted for and properly valuated before the court can proceed with the equitable distribution of a couple’s marital property. In fact, one party could face legal consequences if they try to shield assets from being counted. It is also important to ensure that these real estate assets and investments are valuated properly so that each party’s interest is factored into the court’s final decision.
How Does the Court Divide High Net Worth Assets?
In Massachusetts, the law considers all real estate and investments owned by the couple to be marital assets. This means that a court must consider all property and investments as a whole when determining how to divide these assets between the two parties. Even if one of the parties acquired a piece of real estate or an investment before their marriage, this may not necessarily exclude that particular asset from distribution. The best way to protect any property that is held prior to the marriage is to enter into a detailed prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
Challenges in the Distribution of a High Net Worth Couple’s Real Estate and Investments
Many of the same challenges that arise during a typical divorce case can become magnified in a marriage dissolution involving high net worth spouses. In any divorce settlement, one of the most challenging aspects is determining which real estate and investments should stay with one party versus the other. Since divorce courts in our area consider all of a couple’s assets when distributing property, identifying which party has a right to a specific investment or real estate holding can be extremely time consuming.
Additionally, dealing with considerable wealth increases the likelihood of couples having disagreements about the particular valuation of a certain investment or piece of real estate. The tax implications involved when divvying up high net worth real estate and investment portfolios typically require additional deliberation as well.
A high net worth couple who can reach their own agreement regarding the distribution of real estate and investments is more likely to obtain a favorable outcome than if they leave this decision in the hands of the court. This is why it is highly beneficial to speak with an attorney who can help protect your legal rights and investments in a carefully drafted, legally binding property agreement.
Ask a Lawyer about Handling Real Estate and Investments in a High Asset Divorce
Knowing what to do and how to protect your investments during divorce can be complicated. If you need help understanding how real estate and investments are handled in a high asset divorce, you should speak with a lawyer from O’Connor Family Law who can explain your options and help you overcome the unique hurdles presented by your case. Get in touch with our legal team today.