How do I get my fair share in a high asset divorce?

This is a question many people embroiled in a high asset divorce hesitate to ask. Many times, these people are afraid they may appear greedy or opportunistic if they focus on property division. However, it is never a bad idea to consider one's own best interests during divorce, particularly one that involves high assets. After all, it usually takes two people to cultivate a relationship and accrue the financial assets involved in some marriages, so it makes sense for both parties to want their fair share.

While divorces involving high-net worth rely on many factors to determine equitable property distribution, two of these may make a powerful difference in how fair shares are determined. This is especially true for a spouse who does not have as much wealth as the other spouse.

Asset Appreciation: Typically divided into two categories—active and passive appreciation—divorcing couples need only focus on the active category. In short, active appreciation means assets have increased in value due to the contributions made by either spouse. For example, in a divorce in which the husband is wealthiest, the wife can use active appreciation as a means for increasing her share if she worked to bring success to the family business or endeavor.

Date of Separation: The lesson here is to document the date of separation because it matters in terms of the property settlement. For instance, if the date of separation occurred before one spouse received a sizeable form of income, the other spouse will likely have no right to a portion of these funds.

Divorces involving high wealth can be complex, and these are just a few things to consider as one moves forward. For the less-wealthy spouse who wants a fair share of the assets he or she helped to build, it is always best to seek guidance from a family law attorney with experience in high asset divorces.

Source: Forbes, "A Multi-Billion Dollar Divorce: What All Divorcing Women Can Learn From Sue Ann Hamm" Jeff Landers, Dec. 03, 2014

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