One of the most important factors in high net worth or high income divorces in Pennsylvania is division of assets which is also referred to as equitable distribution. This is the formal process family court judges in Bucks County use to divide marital assets in a divorce case when the parties cannot reach an agreement or settlement.
Equitable distribution is a three step process:
- Identify marital property and assets,
- Valuate the identified marital property and assets, and
- Distribute the marital property and assets.
It is important to note that many divorces, including high net worth divorces, will be resolved by way of settlement. Essentially, this means that the parties will designate and negotiate the marital assets and then reach an agreement as to how those assets will be divided. Courts in Bucks County encourage parties to settle cases instead of having judges or juries decide cases. The same is true of issues that arise in divorce cases, such as child custody or division of assets.
In high income divorces, there are often multiple, complex assets that will need to be identified and divided, including:
- primary homes,
- secondary/vacation homes,
- rental properties,
- business valuations,
- retirement accounts, pensions, etc.,
- stock options and other deferred income/compensation, and
- high value personal items (artwork, jewelry, etc.).
Engaging in Discovery to Locate Hidden Assets
When dividing assets in a high net worth divorce in Pennsylvania, it’s crucial to identify all assets including hidden assets, accounts and investments. Depending on the situation, a forensic accountant may be necessary. In high income divorce situations, it’s not uncommon for one spouse to open a separate account in anticipation of the divorce or separation. The other spouse may not be aware of the existence of the account.
It is advisable to hire a divorce attorney who is experienced in high income divorces, someone who has experience in locating and analyzing sizeable assets. This is especially important because older couples are divorcing at higher rates than ever before. In our Bucks County Divorce Law Practice, we have seen an increase in the number of divorces among individuals who are 55 and older. With these types of divorces, we see a range of assets including sizeable savings accounts, retirement accounts, real estate, etc.
Understanding the Long Term Financial Effects of a Divorce Settlement
Attorney and firm partner Brian Coverdale is uniquely positioned to handle high net worth divorces. As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFATM), Mr. Coverdale helps his clients understand the short and long term impacts of a divorce settlement, including the transfer and division of retirement plans and deferred compensation. This helps his clients obtain a clearer picture of their financial futures.