Hidden assets and other sticky issues in high-asset divorce

Divorce is difficult under any circumstances, but couples who have significant assets may experience issues that are more complicated than those affecting couples of more modest means.

In addition to the attorneys for both parties, complex high-asset divorce proceedings may require experts in other fields to provide answers to difficult questions.

Equitable distribution

In a complex divorce, proper distribution of the marital estate requires the disclosure of many details. Protecting the interests of both parties requires the presentation of all relevant facts. Discussion of subjects such as complex financial matters, property questions and business valuations is often necessary. Assets will be evaluated as to whether they are marital or nonmarital in nature. If something does not seem right to one of the spouses or that poses a ticklish question, either may call in a professional to review and possibly investigate the situation.

Hidden assets

Many people approach divorce with honesty, but one of the spouses may try to hide assets so as to keep more of the marital estate. For example, a wife may discover that her husband has set up a custodial account in the name of her child to hide cash. If her soon-to-be ex is a business owner, there may be a fake employee to whom he is funneling a fake salary. How about the new painting in his big corner office? Her spouse could turn cash into a valuable object like that and then under-report the value. He might even delay signing a lucrative contract until after the divorce is final to keep from having to share the proceeds. These are all forms of hiding assets.

Calling in the pros

From hidden assets to complex property matters, high-asset divorce often requires input from professionals such as CPAs, forensic accountants and business valuation experts. Attorneys who have helped many divorcing couples with substantial assets know who to call for assistance with delicate situations. The goal is always to ensure the best outcome for a complex matter and the most equitable distribution of the marital estate.