Family Law Offices in Pasadena and Woodland Hills Experienced in High-Net-Worth Divorce Cases
When your assets are at stake
Even when both parties to divorce are in agreement on the major issues, a high-net-worth divorce requires a higher level of expertise and representation than a more typical divorce. At the Law Offices of Steven A. Blunt, we have more than 35 years of experience dealing with these cases, so we recognize the delicate nature of these separations.
Property division in high-net-worth cases
California is a “community property” state. A simple way to define community property is all property that can be traced to or results from the work, efforts or labor of either party during the marriage. Community property is divided equally between the parties in a dissolution proceeding. Property acquired by a party before the marriage, or after separation or acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage is separate property, and does not enter into the division of community property. It is confirmed to the party to whom it belongs.
While these seem to be relatively simple rules, applying them is often a daunting task. In cases involving extensive assets, long marriages, long periods of separation before divorce proceedings are commenced, or in second marriages or other situations in which one or both parties come into the marriage with significant holdings, the lines between what is community and what is separate often become hazy.
In these cases “comingling” of assets is often an issue. Comingling occurs where separate property and community property assets are combined in such a manner that it becomes impossible to tell, at the time of the divorce, which portion of a given asset is separate and which is community. An example of this would be one party inheriting $100,000 (separate property) and depositing same into the parties’ joint account, the same account into which the parties each deposit their community earnings and out of which they pay their joint expenses. At the time the separate property deposit is made, it is easy to identify the community and separate portions of the account. However after many years have passed and hundreds of thousands of dollars have passed through the account, it is no longer possible to identify the community and separate portions. In high-asset cases, these issues are magnified, calling for the involvement of forensic accountants and other experts to trace the separate property assets and present testimony in court
Judges also look to pre- and postnuptial agreements for division of assets. Real estate may be sold and split, or one party may choose to pay the other 50 percent of fair market value of the property. Other assets such as jewelry, fine art, vehicles, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, insurance policies and cash also can be considered and divided equally. It is important to establish the value of all your assets early on and determine what community property is and what separate property is.
Litigation in high-net-worth cases
Often, one or both parties in a high-net-worth case want the process to go quickly to avoid any unnecessary attention either in the media or in their own social circles. High-net-worth cases can be easily resolved if pre- and postnuptial agreements are already in place or if both parties are cooperative and in agreement about the division of property. However, if either party gets emotional or vindictive, litigation quickly can get out of hand, drawing the process out.
The more quickly that both parties make decisions, the faster they can get to the result. Given the time delays currently being experienced in family law courts because of post-recession budget cuts, most litigated high-net-worth cases are handled privately by retaining a retired judicial office who is appointed by the court to act in the capacity of judge for the particular case.
Lengthy litigation can be avoided
Even in high-net-worth cases, litigation may be avoided with the matter settled through mediation or arbitration if both parties communicate in good faith, agree on division of property, and act fairly. If you are facing a high-net-worth divorce, it is important to partner with a lawyer experienced in negotiating asset division settlements. We have a track record of success, and we are proud of our ability to find creative and positive solutions to asset dissolution issues. We will use every resource available to resolve your asset dispute outside the courtroom. However, if a settlement cannot be reached, we are fully prepared to fight for you in court.
Issues unique to high-net-worth divorce
When handling high-net-worth cases, discretion and professionalism are of the utmost importance. The impact of spousal support and the importance of protecting certain assets such as business interests are enhanced.
- We handle your case with discretion and speed to avoid breach of fiduciary duty
- We work with your financial professionals and our network of financial experts to protect business and personal interests
- We resolve complicated issues quickly and quietly
When experience and skill matter to your financial future, let the legal team at the Law Offices of Steven A. Blunt help you.
Contact a certified family law specialist for advice and guidance
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven A. Blunt have more than 35 years of experience dealing in delicate family matters and high-net-worth cases. Call 626-796-0031 to speak to an attorney, or contact us online.