Orange County Divorce Lawyers Experienced in Interstate and International Matters
Divorces are increasingly involving interstate and international issues—especially for high-net-worth couples. From vacation homes to offshore accounts, couples who reside in California can have ties to multiple jurisdictions across the United States and worldwide. For couples that have minor children, traveling for work and leisure can have divorce implications as well. As you might expect, dealing with cross-border matters can add complexity to the divorce process. At Seastrom Tuttle & Murphy, our Irvine divorce attorneys have significant experience handling these matters on behalf of our clients, and we can help you strategically and successfully navigate the most complex aspects of your divorce.
Our practice is devoted to representing high-net-worth individuals in divorces and other family law matters. We are intimately familiar with the unique considerations involved in high-asset divorces, including concerns that cross California’s borders. With decades of relevant experience, we can advise our clients efficiently and effectively, and we have connections across the globe that we can leverage to our clients’ benefit.
Interstate and International Issues in a California Divorce
Two types of interstate and international issues are particularly common in high-net-worth divorces: (i) property division and (ii) child custody and parenting time. When a couple owns assets in multiple states or multiple countries, ensuring that these assets are appropriately considered, classified, and distributed is critically important. Likewise, if you or your spouse intends to move out of California after your divorce, or if one of you plans to travel out-of-state or out-of-country with your children post-divorce, this is a matter that requires special consideration and careful planning under California law.
Dealing with Out-of-State and Overseas Assets During a California Divorce
While it is essential to understand the unique aspects of dealing with out-of-state and offshore assets during a divorce under California law, it is also important to know how these assets are not different from your assets in California. All marital assets—regardless of location—are subject to division in a California divorce. California’s community property law presumes that each spouse is entitled to an equal share. This means that absent special circumstances, marital assets held in other states and other countries will be subject to 50/50 distribution, just like assets located in California.
Of course, this does not mean that the assets themselves need to be split down the middle. Divorcing spouses can divide their marital estate in any manner they choose—as long as the division is compliant with California law (or the terms of the spouses’ prenuptial or postnuptial agreement). For example, if a divorcing couple owns two houses in different states of roughly equal value, the spouses may simply agree that one spouse will keep one home and the other spouse will keep the other.
With that said, owning out-of-state or offshore assets can add significant complexity to the divorce process. At Seastrom Tuttle & Murphy, our Orange County divorce lawyers help our high-net-worth clients strategically navigate issues such as:
- Identifying and locating offshore assets
- Valuing real estate and other assets held in other countries
- Transferring ownership and disposing of foreign-held assets
- Advising on potential tax implications of transactions involving assets located outside of California
- Ensuring that your divorce decree is capable of being enforced in all relevant jurisdictions
Regardless of the issues involved, their complexity, and the jurisdiction in which they arise, our lawyers have the skill and experience our clients need to protect their property interests during the divorce process. Whether you own an interest in an out-of-state business, have property in Europe, Asia, or Central America, or have assets in offshore accounts for tax mitigation purposes, we can give you the insights you need to move forward with confidence.
Dealing with Interstate and International Parenting Time Matters
All California couples with minor children need to address custody and parenting time during the divorce process, and all custody-related decisions need to reflect the “best interests” of the couple’s children. When one parent plans to move out of state or overseas post-divorce, determining what is in a child’s best interests can present particular challenges.
California law does not inherently favor either parent, nor does it prefer a parent who works less over a parent who works more. However, when one parent intends to move away, this can influence the best-interests analysis. Each couple’s particular circumstances are highly relevant; and, when crafting a parenting time plan during the divorce process, it is imperative to fully assess all considerations weighing both in favor of and against each parent’s desired parenting rights.
Jurisdictional Considerations for High-Net-Worth Couples with Multiple Residences
Another issue that can come up in some cases is where the couple should file for divorce. If a couple has multiple residences, it is possible that they could also have numerous choices of jurisdictions in which to file.
This can have significant implications. For example, California’s spousal support laws are generally more favorable for the lower-earning spouse than the laws of many other states. In high-net-worth divorce scenarios, this can potentially mean hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in alimony being either on or off of the table.
Property division laws also vary significantly between states. In fact, California is in the minority of states with community property laws that presume an equal split is warranted. In most other states, the law requires an “equitable” approach—and the focus is simply on achieving a fair outcome in light of the circumstances presented.
Child custody laws don’t vary as much, but there are material differences in some cases. The same is true about the laws governing child support. If you can potentially file for divorce in multiple jurisdictions, our divorce lawyers can help you make an informed decision, taking into account all pertinent practical and legal considerations.
Schedule an Initial Divorce Consultation at the Irvine Office of Seastrom Tuttle & Murphy
If you are contemplating a divorce and would like to know more about any of the issues discussed above, we encourage you to get in touch with a divorce attorney in our office as soon as possible. To schedule an initial divorce consultation at Seastrom Tuttle & Murphy, please call 949-474-0800 or inquire online today.