FAQs: High Asset Divorce

While every divorce can be complex and emotional, divorces involving businesses, multiple homes and other large assets and debts can be especially taxing. The following are some of the questions that clients frequently ask our Los Angeles, CA divorce lawyers.

How Can I Find Out What My Spouse Really Makes?

Often, one spouse will not share his or her full income with the other spouse and may even take steps to hide assets. For example, a spouse may be a partner in a business that hides assets for him or her, or may have requested a delayed bonus/raise to prevent that income for being included in the divorce.

If you find yourself in this situation, there are steps you can take to uncover assets before your California divorce. Find and make copies of any tax returns, bank account statements and pay stubs to which you have access. Also, document the lifestyle you have been living. Work with a divorce lawyer and forensic accountant to uncover well-hidden assets. Assets may be hidden with employers, family members or friends; in undervalued artwork or office furniture; through custodial accounts; in municipal bonds; and in many other places.

How Can I Protect My Community Property Share?

Under California law, community property is any asset that was acquired by a spouse during marriage. The net value of all community property must be divided equally (50/50). However, this does not mean that each person gets one-half of every asset. Rather, all assets are valued and each spouse must get an equal share of the total value.

Many divorces involve arguments over individual pieces of property, from a favorite chair to a vacation home. No one can guarantee that you will end up with the property you want the most. However, a California divorce attorney can help you explain to the court why that property is valuable to you.

What Can I Get in Spousal Support / Alimony?

The amount of spousal support (alimony) you receive and the duration of your award will depend on a number of factors. These factors are listed in section 4320 of the California Family Code. They include:

  • The standard of living during marriage
  • The ability of the supported spouse to find work or develop marketable skills
  • The contributions of the supported spouse to the education or career of the supporting spouse
  • Each spouse’s income and separate property
  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and health of the spouses

A court may also consider “any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.”

An experienced spousal support lawyer in Los Angeles, CA can help you determine the approximate amount of temporary support you will receive and argue for or against long-term spousal support.

How Is a Family Partnership Divided?

If you and your spouse own a business together, dividing the assets and debts of that business may be difficult. First, you must determine the business’ worth through a business valuation. What was the business’ controllable cash flow? What was the value of the business’ real estate? How many debts does the business owe?

Then, you must decide what is going to happen to the business. Does one spouse want to keep the business and buy out the other partner, or should the business be liquidated? A Los Angeles family law attorney experienced in business dissolution can help ensure that you receive your share of the business assets.

How Are Retirement Accounts Divided During a High Asset Divorce?

Pensions and retirement accounts are divided the same way in low asset and high asset divorces. The court must make a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), which explains how much of the retirement account each spouse will receive, when he or she will receive it, and how.

Dividing retirement plans can be more complicated depending on whether or not the pension has been vested and how the wage earner was paid (such as by wages, product or incentive).

Contact an experienced Boyd Law Los Angeles high net worth attorney for a free legal consultation if you think you will be or are already involved in a high asset divorce.