In several recent posts, we’ve discussed some of the unique issues facing couples in a high-asset divorce. Although minimizing divorce costs can be a concern for any divorcing couple, it will save time and money to do things right the first time. To avoid mistakes, individuals who are of a high net worth should consult with a law firm that focuses on this boutique aspect of family law.
Our Tampa law firm has helped many clients divide sizable assets in a divorce. We start with an inventory of the marital estate, and then we get to work valuing those assets. We typically consult one or more valuation experts with whom we have established relationships. Such experts can help value special types of assets, such as a spouse’s share of a partnership or other business, or investment-related interests.
It is important for an attorney to work with valuation experts because an attorney can issue spot for commonly overlooked assets in property division. Life insurance is one example. The IRS provides guidance for how to divide this asset in a divorce. Yet couples may overlook it, which is an easy mistake considering that many other types of insurance are not marital property, such as car or home insurance.
An attorney can also provide counsel about assets that should be excluded from the marital estate. For example, property that was owned before the marriage may fall outside the definition of marital property, especially if the couple executed a premarital agreement. However, an exception may apply if the spouse directly or indirectly contributed to the asset’s increase in value. On the other hand, appreciation that resulted from outside influences, such as the market, would generally be considered passive, thus preserving the classification of non-marital property.