No divorce is easy. While dealing with the strong emotions that come with ending a married life together, divorcing spouses must also keep cool heads and sharp wits when it comes to disclosing and dividing their marital assets according to California’s equal division of community property law. This process is even more challenging in a high-asset divorce when each spouse may have both separate and marital assets to untangle and a wide range of properties, investment accounts, businesses, and even high-value artwork and antiques. Many spouses in high-asset divorces in California wonder how they can protect their separate assets and their share of the wealth during a divorce.
Obtain a Divorce Attorney With a Favorable Track Record in High-Asset Divorces
Never go it alone during a divorce if you have considerable assets. Tension and acrimony run high even between spouses with typical marital portfolios, but when divorcing couples have high assets or complex portfolios of holdings subject to division and distribution, it often becomes a fiercely contentious battle.
While it’s always beneficial to draft a settlement agreement out of court, don’t be in such a hurry to sign an agreement that you give your spouse an unfair advantage or sign away assets you could have legally retained and may later regret losing.
It’s always best to retain representation from a high-asset divorce attorney in California with many years of experience navigating high-asset divorces within the state’s community property laws. With a lot at stake, you have a lot to lose if you aren’t savvy about your choices during this turbulent time.
Learn About the Risk of Commingling Assets Before You File for Divorce in California
One of the first unpleasant surprises in many high-asset divorces in California is when one or both spouses assume an asset that belonged solely to them before their marriage is still their separate asset. Real estate property, accounts, and businesses that were one spouse’s alone may have become a marital asset through commingling. After years of marriage, one spouse may have a valid claim on the other’s separate asset due to accidental or purposeful commingling. For example, if one spouse owned a rental property but the other spouse spent time and money improving the property, they have a valid claim on that property. Financial accounts belonging to one spouse before marriage may also become marital property subject to division if the other spouse had access to the account at any time during the marriage.
Before you file for a high-asset divorce, speak to your attorney about how to avoid commingling or how to ensure that your separate property remains separate throughout the discovery process and full financial disclosure.
Freeze Assets From the Moment You File for Divorce to Ensure Your Spouse Cannot Hide or Disburse Holdings
Attempting to hide assets or dispose of them during the divorce process can result in criminal charges. Both spouses must make full financial disclosures at the beginning of the divorce proceedings and respond to any requests for further documentation by the opposing attorney. It’s illegal to conceal assets, purposely undervalue them, transfer them out of the country, or go on spending sprees. Some misguided spouses hide assets by “gifting” them to a friend or relative with the understanding that they will “gift” them back once the divorce is final.
By signing a court document such as a financial disclosure, you are swearing that all information is true and correct. Penalties for these tactics not only include possible jail time, but spouses caught hiding or disposing of assets often suffer financial consequences when a judge awards more assets to the spouse during the distribution of marital property.
Your high-asset divorce attorney can help ensure that your spouse cannot hide assets during the discovery process.
Protect Your Assets Through a Mediation With a High-Asset Attorney
Finally, a skilled Los Angeles high-asset attorney can facilitate mediation to attempt an out-of-court settlement. If both spouses can work out the equitable distribution of their assets outside of the courtroom in a divorce settlement agreement it saves time, money, and the contention of a drawn-out courtroom battle.