Complex Divorces

Complex Financial Issues in High Asset Divorce Proceedings

At the Law Office of Sam Christopher Allevato, Attorney at Law we have more than 13 years of experience representing clients in complex, high-asset divorces.  With sterling academic credentials, strong practical experience and a solid reputation in the Southern California legal community, our law firm is well-positioned to address all of our clients’ family law concerns.

Divorce is difficult for any family, but a divorce involving high net worth individuals can be especially complex.  Our firm has represented clients in many complex divorce cases involving the division of considerable property, including marital estates valued in excess of $15 million.  In these cases, troublesome financial questions have to be addressed head-on in order to make sure the divorce decree results in a fair division of property.  At the same time, it is important for us to proceed efficiently so that our clients’ assets are not devoured by attorney’s fees and avoidable litigation costs.

Thorough Discovery to Identify Omitted Assets

By performing a thorough discovery, we can help ensure that our clients receive the best possible marital property settlement.  The first step in the discovery process is to identify the spouses’ assets.  Each spouse has a duty to disclose their assets and behave with a fiduciary duty to each other.  This can be difficult if a spouse has failed to disclose or purposefully hidden his or her property.  However, with the help of financial experts, we can diligently investigate the marital assets to ensure that all property, even hidden assets, is completely disclosed.  To learn more about the financial issues commonly encountered in complex divorces, please see our pages on omitted assets and breach of fiduciary duty.

Comprehensive Investigations to Trace Marital Assets

In California, assets are divided in divorce based on the rules of community property.  In general, this means that all assets and properties acquired during the marriage must be distributed equally between the spouses.  However, assets that can be shown to be the individual property of either spouse are not part of the marital estate, but instead considered separate property.  The process of classifying assets as separate or community often requires detailed investigation and review of financial records.  Furthermore, after all assets have been properly classified, they must be accurately valued to ensure a fair and equal distribution among the spouses.  As experienced and creative attorneys, we work with prominent forensic accountants and appraisers to help us grasp the many subtle yet important financial issues involved in dividing property.

Creative Negotiations to Achieve a Beneficial Property Division

Once community property has been identified and fair values have been established, the spouses can begin to divide assets by trading their properties or, alternatively, one spouse can buy out the other spouse with an equalization payment.  A spouse will often buy out another spouse when that spouse owns their own business or there is a property he or she would like to keep, such as a residence.  An equalization payment may be funded in several ways, including by an independent source, a liquidation of assets, or refinancing or borrowing against existing assets.

If the source of a large marital estate includes a family-owned or family-operated business, a legion of questions may arise during the divorce that will affect how the business is distributed. These questions include:

  • Who owned or started the business?
  • When was the business acquired?
  • Did both spouses contribute towards the business’s growth?
  • Will the business be sold or will one spouse buy out the other?
  • How will the sale or buyout affect the remaining owner’s relationship with other partners in the business?
  • Is the business a “family” business owned by prior members of your spouses’ family?

When negotiating a distribution of assets it is important to consider long-term financial issues, including retirement planning and tax planning.  Community property guidelines give spouses – and their attorneys – significant leeway to negotiate a marital property settlement.  High asset divorces in particular require a lot of creative negotiating to ensure that clients retain the property of their choice and end up in the best financial position possible.

Early Legal and Financial Advice Is Critical to a Successful Divorce

If you are considering divorce and your marital estate includes substantial liquid assets, property, or a family-owned business, it is absolutely essential to get legal advice immediately.  Even before the divorce proceedings begin, Attorney Sam Christopher Allevato can advise you on the strategies that will help you retain as large a percentage of your assets as the law allows.  The stakes can be high in divorce and often times the discovery process in obtaining adequate information is challenging.  Attorney Sam Christopher Allevato can provide diligent, vigorous, comprehensive representation in this regard and is prepared to utilize a pool of professional support if necessary.

Contact Sam Christopher Allevato, Attorney at Law for an initial consultation today (713) 832-1166 or contact us online.