High Net Worth

Special considerations for high-net-worth couples

Your extraordinary wealth brings a set of complex financial dynamics to your family that requires specifically trained legal guidance, whether you are creating an estate plan or seeking a divorce. Business interests, real estate holdings, spousal support, custody, and privacy concerns must be addressed in a way that meets your family’s priorities. 


Our team of experienced high-asset divorce and estate planning attorneys can help build a customized plan for your family to thrive long-term. If there are aspects beyond family law or estate planning that require the attention of a specialized expert, you can be confident our network of professional partners represents the best and brightest talent Washington has to offer.


What is a High-Asset Divorce

Some marital assets are relatively easy to identify, such as shared homes, bank accounts, and vehicles. However, high-net-worth spouses may hold more unique assets, including but not limited to:


  • Real estate investment properties
  • Business interests
  • Stocks, bonds, and other investment vehicles
  • Intellectual property (i.e., patents, trademarks, and copyrights)
  • Digital assets (i.e., cyber currency, websites, and blogs)
  • Rare collections (i.e., coins, art, cars, antiques, or wine) 

These assets can be like an onion needing the many layers peeled back to reveal their full value. It is critical to account for and evaluate all high-value marital assets before entering divorce negotiations. We can assist you with this.


Property Classifications


Marital (or community) property includes any asset acquired by either party during marriage. With few exceptions, marital property subject to equal division typically includes:


• Both parties’ earnings during marriage

• Interest income on assets like investments, capital gains, and retirement benefits

• All property obtained with earnings during the marriage

• All property acquired with community funds

• Debts incurred during the marriage by either spouse


Separate Property

Any inheritance received, assets acquired before marriage by either spouse, and gifts to a specific spouse are considered separate property by local courts and are not generally subject to division upon divorce.


An asset characterized as separate property may be subject to division if combined with community property or if the court deems it necessary to create an equitable division of assets. For example, if a couple uses income earned during the marriage to maintain a home inherited by one spouse, the home may be categorized as community property. Our attorneys are experienced in high-asset divorce cases and can help you avoid losing property in a divorce.


Special Considerations in High-Net-Worth Divorces

Determining the value of unique assets such as copyrights, cryptocurrency, or antique collections may require an expert’s assistance. Real estate appraisers, forensic accountants, and business valuation experts may be called on to help high-net-worth spouses prepare for the asset division portion of their divorce.


Privacy Protections

Couples with substantial wealth may understandably be concerned about disclosing their private information in a public courtroom. Our team can provide options for handling sensitive and confidential information.

You and your ex may also sign a confidentiality agreement to maintain privacy, which our firm can assist with if you desire one. This agreement should identify all the documents and information that may not be shared with anyone other than individuals directly involved in your high-asset divorce.

There are also alternative dispute resolutions options we can explore that can protect your desire for the terms of your divorce to remain private. 


Disclosure of Assets

Divorcing couples need to disclose a complete financial picture. Sometimes the risk of losing valuable assets makes a person tempted to hide them. For example, a spouse may transfer ownership of a business to a third party, so it cannot be considered community property. It is best to let our legal professionals, experienced in high-asset divorces, request full disclosure before proceeding with marriage dissolution negotiations. If necessary, we can recommend a forensic accountant who can help determine if any assets are missing.


A High-Asset Divorce Attorney Can Help


While there may be cases where it is okay to proceed without legal counsel, it is not advisable in many circumstances, especially with a high-net-worth divorce. Retaining skilled legal counsel to help protect your interests and preserve your wishes for your family’s future is strongly recommended.


Spouses with substantial assets may have significantly more at stake in a marriage dissolution. One of our knowledgeable attorneys can work with experts on your behalf to accurately identify and evaluate your assets to ensure an appropriate community property division. Get in touch with one of our Washington office’s high-asset divorce lawyers today to speak with us about your options.


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