Orange County High Net Worth Divorce Lawyer for Wealth & Property Division

For spouses who own substantial assets, property division takes on heightened importance during the divorce process. In order to protect your accumulated wealth, you need to take a strategic approach to your divorce, and you need to make sound decisions based on the advice of experienced legal counsel. Each Orange high-net worth divorce lawyer at Seastrom Tuttle & Murphy has significant experience representing high-net-worth spouses prior to, during, and after the divorce process in Orange County, and we can use our experience to protect your assets to the fullest extent possible under California law.

Unique Property-Related Considerations for High Income Divorces

California is one of just a handful of states that recognize the principle of “community property.” Under California’s community property rule, each spouse is considered an equal owner of all assets acquired during their marriage and, in divorce, each spouse is entitled to one half of the couple’s community estate. The only exception is if the spouses entered into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that calls for a different allocation. If you have questions about your specific situation, contact a knowledgeable Irvine high-net-worth divorce lawyer today.

Regardless of the inherent fairness of applying California’s community property law in any particular case, dividing a substantial community estate can present a number of significant challenges. This includes challenges related to:

  • Dividing retirement accounts and non-retirement investment portfolios
  • Dealing with 529 college savings plans, trusts, and other assets held for the benefit of the couple’s children
  • Distributing the private residence, vacation homes and investment properties, whether or not subject to mortgages or other encumbrances
  • Distributing artwork, luxury vehicles, yachts, and other assets of significant financial and sentimental value
  • Protecting family wealth and heirlooms inherited prior to or during the marriage
  • Addressing ownership and control of privately-owned businesses and partial ownership interests in private businesses
  • Addressing ownership of assets owned prior to the date of marriage that appreciated in value between the date of marriage and divorce

In many cases, the first step toward dividing a substantial community asset will be to obtain an accurate valuation. This can be a challenge in itself, as divorcing spouses will often disagree over appropriate valuations and will have differing motives for doing so. For example, a spouse who is seeking to secure sole ownership of a private residence may want a low valuation for purposes of their divorce, while the other spouse will want a high valuation in order to receive as much in exchange for the property as possible. There are various ways to resolve this issue (and the other issues that tend to come up with respect to distributing high-net-worth community estates), and our Orange County high-net worth lawyers can help you thoroughly consider your options so that you can choose the best path forward.

Alimony and Child Support Considerations for High-Net-Worth Spouses

In addition to property-related considerations, high-net-worth spouses face a number of unique considerations with regard to the financial aspects of their divorce as well. Specifically, alimony and child support both require a unique approach in high-net-worth divorces, and the spouses must work with experienced Irvine high asset divorce attorneys to create solutions that protect their respective interests within the confines of California law.

Dealing with Alimony in a High-Net-Worth Divorce

For high-earning spouses, the risk of paying too much in alimony is very real. Rather than set guidelines, California has adopted a list of “alimony factors,” and these factors allow for a broad range of outcomes. Particularly in cases in which one spouse is the primary (or sole) source of income, this spouse must work closely with his or her attorney to develop a strategic plan for avoiding unnecessary liability.

On the other hand, spouses in high-net-worth couples who do not earn a significant amount of income should have the goal of preserving their standard of living after their marriage. Consideration of the marital standard is written into the California Family Code, and the alimony factors are designed to consider it, among other factors of the marriage. Even in circumstances in which both spouses work, if their respective incomes are significantly disproportionate, then a substantial alimony award may be justified.

Dealing with Child Support in a High-Net-Worth Divorce

While California has a set of established guidelines for calculating child support, the challenge for high-net-worth spouses arises from the fact that these guidelines are only designed to work in relatively low-income cases. If one or both spouses earn substantially more than the amount contemplated by the guidelines, then adhering to the guidelines will provide an unworkable result. Additionally, traditional child support payments do not cover many of the types of child-related expenses that high asset parents in Irvine and other similar areas incur. Our divorce attorneys are intimately familiar with these issues, and we have deep experience working with high-net-worth parents to develop child support solutions that meet their needs and those of their children.

Preparing to Achieve a Favorable Result in Your High Asset Divorce

With these types of considerations in mind, planning and preparation take on heightened importance for high-net-worth spouses who are contemplating divorce in California. In order to begin the process, spouses should:

  • Start thinking about prioritization. Getting divorced in California inherently involves compromise. In order to make sure that you know where you are (and aren’t) willing to settle, it is important to begin thinking about your priorities with regard to your assets, income and expenses.
  • Prepare to consider creative solutions. In order to make high asset divorces work, spouses often need to consider creative solutions that allow both parties to achieve their respective goals. These solutions are out there; and, with the right approach, high-net-worth spouses can achieve out-of-court resolutions that meet their needs.
  • Consult with an experienced high asset divorce attorney. Protecting your interests in a high-net-worth divorce is not easy, but it is extremely important. If you are considering a divorce, we encourage you to speak with one of our Irvine attorneys as soon as possible. 

Speak with an Orange County High-Net-Worth Divorce Lawyer Today

If you would like to speak with an Orange County high-net-worth divorce lawyer about the property-related aspects of getting divorced in California, we invite you to schedule a confidential initial consultation with an Irvine divorce attorney at our firm. Call 949-474-0800 or send us a message online to set up an appointment today.