A New York divorce is considered “high net worth” if the couple has $1 million or more in net liquid assets that are subject to equitable distribution. Often, these couples also have ownership interests in other assets that are difficult to value and split. That alone can make a divorce more complicated, but because the stakes are higher, there are more likely to be contests between the spouses that add to the intrigue. As a result, high net worth divorces can drag out for a long time and be expensive.
One of the main issues to deal with in a high net worth divorce is valuation of diverse assets. These can include investments, executive compensation packages and retirement plans. Ownership interests in businesses can be particularly difficult to value, since stock in a private company does not have a readily ascertainable market worth. In addition, each spouse’s contributions to that business may have a bearing on the division of value.
The same concerns apply to luxury items like boats and high-end cars and to fine art, jewelry and antiques. These assets usually must be appraised by professionals. Appraisals are expensive and often require market research. Sometimes, competing estimates are obtained, which can mean finding a neutral party to settle the difference.
A couple that is dividing valuable and complex assets needs to pay particular attention to tax implications. Some of the questions that may need to be explored include these:
In addition to property division contests, there can be complex issues of child support and spousal maintenance in a high net worth divorce. New York has guidelines for calculating these types of support, but when a couple’s income exceeds the guideline caps, the judge must use his or her discretion to set payments. The judge will consider many factors, with the goals of protecting children’s best interests and allowing the spouses to maintain a standard of living similar to that enjoyed during the marriage.
If you have questions about high net worth divorce, the Law Offices of Randy S. Margulis is ready to respond. Our offices are located in Williamsville and downtown Buffalo and we represent clients throughout Western New York. Contact us online or call 716-886-9600 to schedule a confidential consultation.
As a Buffalo divorce lawyer for 28 years, I have devoted myself to solving the problems that affect families throughout the Buffalo metropolitan area and Western New York. As a family law attorney, I make it my goal to create a partnership of trust with my clients. People put their trust in me to handle cases that can potentially have a long-lasting impact on not only their lives, but the lives of their family as well.
Alexandra M. Rockwood is a Senior Associate Attorney with the Law Offices of Randy S. Margulis & Associates and has been with the firm since early 2020. She primarily practices in the areas of matrimonial and family law, including divorce, child custody, and child support. Alexandra is a practicing matrimonial and family law attorney as…