High Asset Divorce Attorneys in North Carolina & South Carolina
What Is a High-Asset Divorce Attorney?
A divorce involving high net worth and high assets needs the dedicated care and attention of an experienced attorney. At Collins Family & Elder Law Group, we have several high-asset divorce lawyers on staff who can help you navigate these potentially difficult divorce proceedings.
A high-asset divorce attorney in North or South Carolina is a legal professional who focuses on divorces involving significant assets like investments, companies, real estate, and high net worth. These attorneys have extensive experience with complicated financial matters and can help you through any complex issues that may arise during the divorce.
When Your High-Asset Divorce Turns Contentious
Going through a divorce can be extremely challenging, regardless of who initiated it. When high assets and large sums are involved, things can get nasty quickly. The issues that arise are similar to ones that would come up in a regular divorce, but there is often more at risk because there is more to lose during divorces involving high net worth.
Here are some of the common issues that arise in high-asset divorces:
- Complex property division
- Tax implications
- Business valuation
High-asset divorce attorneys in North Carolina and South Carolina also handle issues that are similar between a high-asset divorce and a normal divorce, including:
- Child custody and support
- Asset division
- Spousal support
- Retirement or pension plan division
Why You Need an Experienced Attorney for a High-Asset Divorce
While a family law attorney can help with divorce issues like child custody and general asset division, the intricate financial aspects of a high-asset divorce require more in-depth knowledge and specialized experience. A high-asset divorce lawyer must work with outside experts, like business valuation professionals, forensic accountants, and other financial specialists, to appraise the assets fully and determine a fair split.
There is also the concern that the other party in the divorce could be hiding assets or offshore accounts to prevent them from being divided during divorce proceedings. A general family law attorney may not have the know-how or resources to investigate and uncover these things, which is why it’s important to work with a high-asset divorce attorney in South Carolina or North Carolina to help ensure all assets are accounted for and joint items are split evenly.
High-Asset Divorce: Protecting Your Wealth
We all know the scenario: You worked hard for as long as you can remember, and now, finally, you’ve built up a safe financial cushion for your family and your retirement. You feel like you can breathe for the first time in your adult life and maybe begin to relax, maybe take a vacation, maybe not worry about your kids’ college educations.
Then, life takes a turn and you’re going through a divorce. Perhaps you were the one initiating, or, instead, you were blindsided. Either way, this is where you are now, and you want to protect yourself and your assets during this very chaotic time.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to protect yourself and your wealth during this uncertain time.
1. Start Gathering Financials
The first step in protecting your wealth is to take stock of what you truly have. While this may seem like an obvious first step, unless someone is buying a home or taking out a business loan, this information is typically not handy and readily available. It’s also not unusual for one spouse to handle the finances while keeping the other mostly in the dark.
Whatever your situation, it’s important to make yourself aware and collect documentation of what exists, how much exists, and where it exists. Start collecting your bank and financial statements, loan balances, and tax returns. If you’re a business owner, you’ll need your P&L statements. Gather plan documents and quarterly statements for retirement accounts.
If you have a signed premarital agreement, find the original copy. Do some research if you aren’t certain what assets and debts your spouse may have. For example, review bank statements for cryptocurrency transactions and work on locating those immediately.
This first step will take some time and can be very overwhelming, but it’s an essential first step. Even in the most amicable of divorces, this information is critical to negotiations and settlements. In the more acrimonious situations, you’ll want this information available immediately for evidence purposes and before your spouse can start hiding money. Regardless of whether your divorce will be civil or less than civil, your attorney will need this information, so you might as well start gathering it all now.
2. Review Financial Information
The next step is to review all of the gathered information in detail. Look to see if there are any large transactions or abnormal spending. If there are and you didn’t know about it, you’ll want to make sure your attorney knows so they can decide how to handle it and determine if court intervention is necessary.
Review your debts, including home equity lines of credit, mortgage loans, and credit card loans, to make sure your marital debt hasn’t increased without your knowledge. This is also a good time to pull a credit report to check for unusual activity. If there is any, let your attorney know immediately.
Along those lines, don’t do anything to hide assets or increase debt, as that will typically backfire. Not only will it result in an immediate loss of credibility in front of a judge, but it also makes the process more contentious and increases legal fees.
The main goal during this time is to maintain the “status quo” of your finances and spending as much as possible. If any changes are going to be made, such as redirecting your paycheck into an individual bank account or opening a separate bank account, those changes should be communicated.
3. Hire the Necessary Professionals
Hiring a qualified family law attorney is critical to your protection. Divorce itself is a legal process and requires the help of a legal professional well-versed in that area of law. Documents will need to be drafted that memorialize agreements or court rulings. Orders may need to be submitted to divide certain assets and, if not drafted correctly, could result in unnecessary tax ramifications or penalties.
Legally binding contracts may need to be signed, and an experienced attorney will know the nuances of these extensive contracts and make sure the contract is drafted in a way that provides you the most protection. Interpreting a poorly drafted contract or order after divorce can often be substantially more expensive than hiring an experienced attorney to represent you from the start. Engaging the services of a qualified family law attorney will help you avoid these costly mistakes.
Depending on the size of your estate and the type of assets you have, it may be advantageous to bring on other experts, as well, such as:
- Forensic accountants
- Business evaluators
- Financial advisors
- Real estate appraisers
While this may be an added expense you don’t want to incur or feel is necessary, these professionals are able to efficiently investigate financial information that can have a substantial impact on equitable division and issues of child and spousal support. They’ll be able to concisely determine the value of a business in a way that a judge can easily understand. They can also help calculate income when a spouse is not a simple W-2 wage earner. If you think your spouse has been unethical in their financial dealings or disclosures, they can help find hidden money, debunk fake debts, and serve as a relatively unbiased and credible witness to those facts.
It’s also likely you’ll need to hire an appraiser to value real estate. While there are websites that have estimated property values, the values on those various sites can differ by tens—if not hundreds—of thousands of dollars. The money spent on an appraisal is quickly recouped in legal fees alone by not having to spend valuable time arguing over which website is more credible.
4. Follow Professional Advice
Finally, it can be easy to lose sight of your goals during a divorce, which is why it’s essential to listen to the professionals you hired to help guide you through the process. Occasionally, this means accepting advice you may not want to hear.
Divorce is a negotiation and requires give and take on both sides. Sometimes this means giving more and sometimes this means you should stand your ground. There should be an ongoing cost/benefit analysis during the divorce process; engaging in protracted litigation based on the principle of the matter, rather than the law, is a costly mistake.
A good attorney will encourage you to seek a resolution you can live with, which will help mitigate legal fees and bring you closure. Ultimately, your attorney is there to help protect you and your assets, and following their advice will almost certainly accomplish both.
Hire a High-Asset Divorce Attorney in South or North Carolina
At Collins Family & Elder Law Group, we have attorneys with extensive experience and knowledge in various legal services, as well as over 196 years of combined experience in our office. Our high-asset divorce attorneys can access a wealth of resources that general lawyers may not, improving the likelihood that you’ll get an optimal outcome from your high-net-worth divorce.
We also aim to make your life easier during divorce proceedings. Our Client Experience Coordinator is here to assist you with our client concierge services. We can put you in touch with different professional services, including financial advisors, a realtor, or even spa services to help you relax during a stressful time. We aren’t just here for sound advice and solid legal representation; we also want to support you through the entire process to ensure you have all the resources you need for life after divorce.
Contact our team today to schedule a consultation for your high-asset divorce; call (704) 289-3250 or submit a secure contact form to get started.