High Net-Worth Divorce in Pennsylvania
Experienced Pittsburgh Divorce Attorney
High net-worth divorce cases can involve many complex issues that are not present in a more modest marital estate. . A couple facing a high net-worth divorce may need to sort out a family business, commercial real estate, professional practices, stock options, retirement accounts, tax consequences and more. The process can be made much easier by means of a a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement. This is why such agreements, if properly drafted, are invaluable.
Pre-nuptial or Post-Nuptial Agreements
The best way to streamline the divorce process is often through the use of a Pre-Nuptial or Post-Nuptial Agreement. A Pre-Nuptial Agreement is essentially a binding contract between the parties that limits and specifies elements of the divorce process in advance of the marriage. For example, certain assets such as a family business, professional practice or stock options can be deemed “non-marital” and thus not part of the divorce process. Potential issues such as alimony, spousal support and counsel fees can be eliminated from the divorce process altogether or else set in advance. In fact, nearly every element of a divorce, other than custody and child support, can be pre-determined in a binding manner.
The key element in the enforceability of a Pre-Nuptial Agreement is full and fair disclosure of the economic circumstances of the parties. Even an “unfair” Pre-Nuptial Agreement will generally be honored so long as the attorney has properly inserted elements of a full and fair disclosure of economic circumstances and there is no duress. In fact, drafting an effective, mutually acceptable Pre-Nuptial Agreement is one of the most complex and important tasks a family law attorney can undertake. It is important to make sure your attorney is both experienced and skilled.
A Post-Nuptial Agreement is similar to a Pre-Nuptial Agreement in that it can efficiently resolve some, or all, elements of a divorce. Also, full disclosure is key to the enforceability of a Post-Nuptial Agreement. However, there are important differences between the two documents, including differences in duress, disclosure and division of assets.
Real Estate in a High Net-Worth Divorce
In a divorce, a couple's marital home and any other real estate holdings, such as vacation homes, investment properties, or commercial properties, could be subject to equitable distribution. Such a determination would rest in part on when a couple was married, when they purchased a property, how much the down payment was, and how the payments were made. After deciding which property is to be divided, our attorneys can also help you through such matters as appraisals, tax consequences and comparative market analysis in order to decide whether to keep a property or to put it on the market. If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on this property division issue, or if you disagree on the valuation of any properties, then the matter could be left up to the court to decide.
Professional Practices, Partnerships, and Businesses
The difficulty of a divorce escalates when business assets are involved, necessitating the involvement of numerous specialists. Forensic accountants and actuarial experts may need to assess a business's fair market value, and all manner of records and assets may have to be thoroughly examined. This means examining general ledgers, equipment, payroll registers, inventory, real estate, client lists, enterprises, and more. Then there is the decision of whether or not to keep the business or to sell it. Whether you want to buy-out your spouse's interest in the business, sell the business assets, create an annuitized settlement, or achieve some other resolution, our skilled attorney can assist you in reaching the right outcome.
Dividing Retirement Assets
Under Pennsylvania law, it does not matter if a 401(k), 403(b), IRA, or any other retirement account is under your name alone. These assets could still be subject to equitable distribution. Usually, you would have to divide the amount of retirement assets that you have accrued since the day you married to the day the complaint for divorce was filed. This would be the case with any deferred compensation plans, pensions, SEPs, and SERPs as well. Our firm can craft the domestic relations orders you need to obtain your share of these assets.
Stock Options and Further Issues in a High Net-Worth Divorce
In order to see which, if any, stock options will be subject to equitable distribution, an attorney will have to find the grant date and vesting schedule of your stock options. These matters, as well as numerous other complex issues, should be handled by highly experienced and meticulous professionals. A legal expert is needed for divorces that include difficult issues in accounting and taxes, or when an extensive art collection or considerable investment holdings are involved. Asset valuation, business interests, life insurance policies, and many other legal matters require the collaboration of multiple experts to resolve.
Qualified Legal Assistance from Divorce Attorneys
At the Rosen Family Law Group, our legal team specializes in Pennsylvania family law. If you want to resolve your divorce as privately as possible, we may be able to help you reach an out-of-court settlement or to go through divorce mediation. Our divorce lawyers are experienced in handling complex divorces, and we can help you understand your options and rights in this process. With nearly 20 years of experience in family law, our law firm can provide the expert counsel and representation that you require for your high net-worth divorce.
Contact our firm today to learn more about how we are prepared to assist you.
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