Orange County High Net Worth Divorce Lawyer for Cases Involving a Source of Money Other Than Ordinary Income

Many high-net-worth couples have accumulated their wealth from sources other than ordinary income. Whether one or both spouses brought family money into the relationship or one (or both) received a substantial inheritance during their marriage, dealing with this type of scenario requires a unique approach, and our Orange County high net worth divorce lawyer has particular experience handling these types of cases.

For spouses seeking to protect family money or an inheritance during their divorce, generally speaking, California law is on your side. While divorcing spouses are required to divide their shared estate under the state’s “community property” law, this law has two major exceptions:

  • Assets owned by either spouse prior to their marriage are not subject to division as community property; and,
  • Assets that one spouse acquires by inheritance during the marriage are not subject to division as community property.

But, there are caveats and conditions that can make protecting assets under these exceptions difficult, especially for spouses in high-net-worth couples. As a result, hiring an attorney who has specific experience in these types of divorces is extremely important, and spouses must be able to document the source of all assets that they wish to protect as separate property.

Documenting the Source of Assets that Quality as Separate Property

In order to protect an inheritance or family money acquired through other means as separate property, it is necessary to clearly document the source of these assets. If you have a trust, the trust’s governing documents will be a good start, and you will need to try to collect records of all disbursements from the trust as well. This includes disbursements prior to and during your marriage.

If you received assets directly through inheritance, you will need to collect the relevant records from the administration of your family member’s estate, and it may be necessary to request documentation from the probate court or your loved one’s personal representative. Our divorce lawyers can handle much of this process for you, and we will work with you one-on-one to ensure that we have everything we need in order to protect your assets in your divorce.

Identifying Assets that Qualify as Separate Property in California

One particular challenge that many high-net-worth spouses face in these types of scenarios involves identifying the assets that qualify as their separate property. If you use separate property to acquire new assets during your marriage, these newly-acquired assets also qualify as separate property. For example, if you use funds from a trust to purchase personal or real property during your marriage, these items should be yours to keep.

However, commingling separate and community assets, using separate assets to improve community assets (i.e. using trust funds for a home renovation), and various other issues can create complications—and potentially convert separate property into community property that is subject to division in your divorce. As a result, in order to ensure that you retain all assets to which you are legally entitled, you will need to work with an experienced Orange County high net worth divorce lawyer.

Schedule a Confidential Initial Consultation with a Leading Orange County Divorce Law Firm

If you have questions about protecting your assets and would like to speak with an Orange County high net worth divorce lawyer, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule an appointment at your convenience, call us at 949-474-0800 or contact us online today.