How an Arizona High Asset Divorce Can End in Your Financial Favor
Dissolving your marriage is even more difficult when you own a substantial amount of real property, financial assets, or both. The emotional toll of this type of divorce—known as a high asset divorce—can be devastating, since the sheer number of assets involved can quickly turn the division of property into a highly contentious and time-consuming process. However, despite the additional challenges you may face, it’s still possible for a high asset divorce to end in your financial favor.
When it comes to successfully navigating a high asset divorce, your knowledge and understanding of the process is key. To ensure you’re protecting your interests, you’ll need to learn how to handle the proceedings according to Arizona law. This means understanding what’s at stake, determining which assets are likely to be divided, and properly valuing each asset.
By deeply understanding Arizona high asset divorce law, you will be well equipped to begin protecting your wealth during a high asset divorce. By hiring a skilled high asset divorce attorney, you can ensure you don’t lose more than you must once the dust settles.
Bringing Success to Arizona’s Top High Asset Divorce Cases
You need an experienced attorney who understands the unique aspects of the property division process in a high asset divorce.
What Is Considered a High Asset Divorce?
In general, high asset divorces are any divorce where the couple has a high net worth—a large amount of physical and financial assets to divide during the divorce process. In Arizona, a high net worth is defined as financial assets of over $1 million. High asset divorce cases can become extremely contentious when it comes to the division of property because the stakes are higher.
In fact, there are significant differences between traditional divorces and high-asset divorces. By understanding what makes them different, you will have a better idea of what to expect.
Some differences include:
- The quantity of assets up for division. Because parties in a high-asset divorce have more wealth and belongings than those in a traditional divorce, more assets must be identified, valued, and divided during the property division phase. For this reason, high-asset divorces tend to be more complicated and labor-intensive to ensure a financially favorable outcome.
- The speed of divorce proceedings. In high-asset divorces, evaluating assets and negotiating settlements can take an extensive period. There is much more on the table to discuss, which means a great deal of time and effort must be expended combing through financial records and conducting appraisals. However, this time is necessary to ensure a fair division of property, and patience is the key to a successful and financially beneficial high-asset divorce.
- Greater tax implications. Tax implications are more significant for those with complex assets and an extensive income. This is especially true when the property division process involves real estate and large sums of money. You must also consider transfer tax implications in a high-asset divorce.
How Long Does a High Net Worth Divorce Take?
High net worth divorces, like other types of divorce, vary in length depending on the unique aspects of the relationship in question and the assets involved. In Arizona, a high net worth divorce can take anywhere from six months to two years, even longer.
As mentioned, these cases are especially complex due to the number of assets involved, making the proceedings lengthy and often expensive. There are many factors that can further complicate a high asset divorce, including:
- The need to hire a specialized attorney, forensic accountants, and tax advisors
- Evaluating complicated assets, such as real estate or closely held companies
- Dealing with complex, evolving tax laws
- The presence of children and the subsequent child support and child custody decisions necessary
- A spouse who refuses to cooperate or was found hiding assets during property division
These factors can add months to divorce proceedings, which can be costly and time-consuming. While the process can be frustrating, it is important to be prepared and patient so you can ensure you exit your marriage with the property you rightfully deserve. Working with an experienced high asset divorce attorney is the best way to improve your chances at success and expedite the process. They are familiar with Arizona divorce and property division laws and can navigate any obstacles that arise effectively and efficiently.
How Are Assets Usually Split in a Divorce?
Arizona is a community property state. This means state law dictates that divorcing spouses must equally split any assets obtained during the marriage. Currently, only nine states uphold community property laws—the rest require judges to divide assets and debts fairly and equitably during the property division phase.
In general, if you and your spouse purchased or earned assets during your marriage, they must be split roughly 50/50 between you. Some of the most common types of marital property include:
- Real estate—homes, land, and buildings purchased or built during the marriage
- Business interests—shares of stock, ownership percentages, and other business investments
- Vehicles—personal vehicles such as cars or boats
- Bank accounts—checking, savings, investment, and retirement accounts
- Pensions—company pensions or 401(k) plans
- Valuable personal items—artwork, antiques, jewelry, and other items
- Debt related to any of the above
What Assets Are Safe from Divorce?
It is important to note that, even in a community property state like Arizona, not all assets must be divided in a divorce. Certain assets are considered separate property, not community property, and are owned by one spouse and not the other.
Common types of separate property not subject to division during a high asset divorce include:
- Premarital property. Any property the spouses owned before they were married cannot be divided in a divorce, provided it has not since been commingled with marital assets. For example, a separate bank account owned before the marriage is separate property unless you add your spouse to the account and shared spending habits make it impossible to differentiate personal spending from marital spending.
- Gifts or inheritances. Assets given to an individual spouse by a third party cannot be divided in a divorce. This includes both gifts and inheritances that have been kept separate from the marriage.
- Property purchased with separate assets. Any property purchased with separate assets like gift or inheritance funds cannot be divided during divorce.
- Property protected in a prenuptial agreement. If the spouses signed a prenuptial agreement before marrying, the terms of the agreement may dictate the division of community and separate property. Such an agreement trumps state law so long as it is declared valid.
- Post-divorce assets. Anything newly acquired after the divorce proceedings have begun is considered separate property. This means that anything bought by one spouse with separate assets without any involvement from the other spouse cannot be divided in a divorce.
What If My Spouse Is Hiding Assets?
Unfortunately, some parties involved in a high net worth divorce act deceptively and attempt to hide assets to prevent their division during divorce. If there is a suspicion that your spouse is hiding assets, it is important to hire an attorney experienced in high asset divorce. The attorney will work with forensic accountants and tax advisors to help uncover any hidden assets.
These experts will study your spouse’s finances, review tax returns, bank records, and more to identify any concealed assets. If there is any indication assets have been hidden, the attorney will provide this information to the court, which will issue an order to identify the assets in question.
If the other party does not comply, they may experience serious legal consequences including financial penalty or perjury charges. The act of hiding assets is far more common in high asset divorces than it is in other divorce cases, which is why it’s important to work with a specialized attorney to prevent loss and unfair division.
Top Steps to Protect Yourself Financially in a High Asset Divorce
There are many ways to protect yourself from losing the assets you have worked hard to earn in a high asset divorce. Here are some critical steps to preserve your wealth:
- Be proactive. Know what you have and how it should be valued even before the valuation period begins. This means getting financial records together and doing research, so you know the market value of your assets and how to properly document them for the division process. You’ll be better able to identify missing or unfairly valued assets.
- Stay informed. Communicate with your spouse and your attorney frequently. Develop a clear understanding regarding what is at stake and settlement terms.
- Remain open. Be open to negotiating a settlement agreement. There may be opportunities for better terms that could benefit you financially, and most Arizona judges strive to provide a fair and equitable division of property. Having a long-term outlook is key to ensuring your financial well-being.
- Secure the services of a high asset divorce lawyer. Speaking with an attorney who understands high asset divorces can help you feel more confident about your rights and what to expect during this challenging time. An experienced legal professional is
personally invested in you and your financial future and can help you navigate the upcoming legal proceedings.
What Value Can a High Asset Divorce Lawyer Provide?
A high net worth divorce lawyer can provide enormous value to any client facing a high asset divorce. You can expect:
- Deep content knowledge. Attorneys who specialize in high asset divorces will have the experience and knowledge necessary to guide you through this confusing process. An attorney can ensure you have the answers to your most difficult questions and can navigate property division and divorce litigation with ease.
- Conflict resolution. A divorce attorney can help you resolve any conflict that arises between you and your spouse. They may suggest mediation or other forms of conflict resolution to prevent a situation from escalating and drawing out the divorce process.
- Paperwork management. An attorney can help you file all the necessary documents accurately and in a timely manner. Without this support, you risk losing important documents or missing essential deadlines.
- Positive outcomes. Your attorney can help you achieve the best outcome possible regarding every aspect of your case, including spousal support, the division of assets, child support, child custody, and more.
Thinking About A Divorce? Connect with The Valley Law Group Today
The Valley Law Group is a client-focused, results-oriented law firm that specializes in high asset divorce in Arizona. We are dedicated to helping our clients achieve the best possible financial outcomes. We provide the support and guidance you need throughout this process, protecting your assets and helping you retain your wealth.
Ryan Reppucci, Co-Founder of The Valley Law Group, is recognized as one of Phoenix’s leading family law attorneys. After graduating from Arizona State with the highest honors and inclusion in America’s most prestigious student honor societies, Ryan attended the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. His career as a law student was decorated with numerous awards, including the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law Book Award, nomination for membership in Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities, as well as Moot Court.