San Diego Complex, High-Asset Divorce Attorneys
Not all divorces are the same. Some divorces in San Diego involve marital estate holdings, professional assets, retirement accounts, business ownership, complex trusts, and other complicated high-value assets. On the other hand, any debt you brought into your marriage or accumulated during it could impact your divorce proceedings and can be divided like any other asset. Even the friendliest of separations can lead to complicated proceedings when these types of assets are in play.
Anyone about to get divorced who has valuable assets should contact a San Diego high-asset divorce lawyer experienced in these types of cases. At Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C., our lawyers have a wealth of experience dealing with complex divorces involving bitter feelings on both sides. We know how to handle these cases with professionalism and will utilize all of our skills to protect your best interests. Contact us at (858) 346-5929 to discuss your situation.
Certain assets, such as antiques, art, automobiles, and jewelry, carry financial and sentimental value. It is important to determine the actual value of these items before any decisions are made. It is common for the negotiation process to become contentious when personal items and family heirlooms are involved.
But not only material objects can be subject to property division in a California divorce. Investments, businesses, real estate – all of this can be contested in a divorce as well. At the same time, specific debts can be divided during your divorce, such as student loans, credit cards, mortgages, business loans, and other types of credit. If either side wants specific assets, your divorce can become long and drawn-out as you struggle to claim your fair share. That is why you should work with a trusted attorney who can guide you through the process.
First, it is necessary to work with financial experts to identify and evaluate complex assets. It's simple to determine the market value of a home, but other assets are much more complicated to figure out. Not only will you need to determine the value of specific assets, but you may also need to contend with specific contracts, tax laws, and obligations that can impact how assets are divided. These factors can include:
- All businesses: S corporations, C corporations, and LLCs owned by you or your spouse. A business can be on a separate property owned by one person, or a joint property owned by the couple. When evaluating a separate property, the courts will review what assets fall under the business’s name, any debts the business owes, its income, and other factors. A business’s assets will fall under the categories of tangible or intangible, with tangible assets including office equipment, vehicles, furniture, and inventory. The intangible assets of a business can include things like trademarks, patents, or client lists.
- Professional practices: Practices such as medical and dental offices, law firms, accounting firms, veterinarian clinics, and accounting firms are also subject to equitable distribution in certain situations. Similar to the division of a business in a divorce, professional practices are valued according to their assets such as furniture, equipment, and stock. Valuing a professional practice in a divorce differs in that the courts will also look at current clients or patients, as well as whether the business owner has created “goodwill.” Goodwill is an intangible asset beyond the value of a practice’s combined physical assets. It can include things such as the practice’s reputation, efficiency, location, and other factors.
- All real estate property: Rental property, second homes, vacation property, and commercial property can be divided between spouses. California is one of a handful of states that considers marital property to be community property. Generally, this means that all real estate owned by the couple during their marriage will be split equally during a divorce. This carries with it a higher risk of property division disputes. For example, when one spouse paid for upgrades or purchased a property for the benefit of the other spouse, this can complicate divorce proceedings.
- Retirement assets: It is necessary to review every contribution to retirement funds such as IRA and 401(k) accounts, and the source of those contributions. For example, pension plans can be divided down the middle between spouses based on how long contributions were made to the plan during their marriage.
- Hidden assets: There are many complicated cases in which one spouse tries to hide assets from the other. Even though both spouses are required under the law to fully disclose all their marital assets and debts such as bank accounts, military pensions, employee benefits, real estate, and retirement accounts, one of the parties may choose not to do so.
- Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements: Marital agreements can provide a clear blueprint of how your assets are divided, including who owns specific pieces of real estate, furniture, jewelry, and stock options. However, not all agreements are automatically enforceable. It is often necessary to take action to ensure that the agreements are honored.
- Property tax issues: When dividing a large estate, there are many tax implications to consider. On one hand, when you get divorced could impact how you file taxes for the next year, but you must also factor in capital gains taxes, business tax implications, and the dependents you can claim.
- Other investments: Stocks, bonds, artwork, antiques, collectible items, and other investments can have a major impact on your divorce proceedings. Because of California’s community property laws, one spouse’s stock portfolio will be divided evenly between the couple. Because most antiques, art collections, and collectibles cannot be evenly divided, there will be an appraisal of the value of these tangible assets that are owned by the couple. The value of the items, rather than the items themselves, will be split in a divorce.
California is an equitable distribution state, which means that all of your marriage’s assets will be divided in a way the court considers reasonable and fair. Everything, from the length of your marriage to your income to your skill sets to your contributions to your marriage, can influence how your assets are divided. When you factor in all of the assets listed above, this process can become incredibly complex and place undue stress on your shoulders during a difficult part of your life.
If you and your spouse are on good terms, then this process is simpler, but it still may be complex. You may be able to calmly sit down with your attorneys, review all assets, and evenly divide your community property. This can take a significant amount of time as you work with a financial expert to identify and review all of your financial assets and debt. Once you have determined all of your assets – and reviewed any marital agreements you may have signed – you can begin negotiating a fair distribution of property.
Divorces typically do not impact your credit score or show up on your credit history, but a divorce can indirectly influence your ability to make payments. For one, credit and debt are not evenly divided automatically in a divorce. If your ex-spouse is supposed to handle a specific bill but misses a payment, it could impact your credit score. Making sure that your debt is properly assigned during property division and that you are both capable of making payments is vital to protecting your credit, especially if you own a business.
Dividing your debt is just as complex as dividing your marital income or property, but there are ways to ensure that it is properly dealt with after your divorce, including:
- Agreeing on who should handle specific bills and debts
- Paying off and closing joint accounts
- Planning out your finances to ensure every payment is made on time
- Refinancing or selling real estate that is owned jointly
Spousal support is a topic many spouses tiptoe around during a divorce, but the matter can become more complicated in high-asset divorces. If you and your spouse both have large incomes, then determining who can receive support can be unclear. You may receive income as allocated by a business you own, stock options, real estate investments, and other sources. In addition, both of you may have marketable skills that otherwise allow you to maintain your livelihood after a divorce. Thus, the standard process of calculating spousal support could prove useless in your divorce, and you may only be able to receive temporary spousal support. However, each case is different, and you should review your specific situation with an attorney.
Another major factor you need to consider is how your taxes will be handled. Beyond simply changing your filing status, you will also need to determine who will be able to claim your children as dependents, how capital gains taxes are calculated on property liquidations, withdrawal penalties on retirement accounts, and the income of any stocks or investments you sold during negotiations. If you do not review your finances with an experienced attorney, you may face further difficulties when it comes time to file taxes.
When assets in a divorce are significant or complex, it is critical that you have an experienced San Diego family law attorney on your side. At Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C., we have experience dealing with valuation, negotiation, and litigation of complex divorce cases that involve high net worth. We will use our extensive knowledge of the law to advocate on your behalf and ensure that your rights are protected every step of the way.
If you work with us during your high-asset divorce, our lead attorneys can:
- Evaluate all of your assets, debts, and property
- Identify any hidden assets
- Review your marital agreements
- Represent you during meditation and arbitration
- Negotiate for your fair share of our communal property
- Advocate for your best interests in court
Do not let your divorce define the next few years of your life. Work with experienced and knowledgeable lawyers who understand California family law. Contact Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C., at (858) 346-5929 for a free confidential consultation.
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