5 Divorce Lessons for High-Net-Worth Couples

A man and a woman standing back to back. They are in front of a large home and pool.

If you or your ex has a substantial amount of income or assets, there are certain things you should know about that will be particularly relevant during the divorce process. Even if a couple is unsure about the fate of their marriage, there are steps the parties can begin taking to protect themselves and pave a smoother path ahead.

Anything involving finances can become more wrought during the breakup of a high-net-worth couple. Both the preparation and the proceedings tend to focus more heavily on issues such as:

  • Property division;
  • Sorting through financial records;
  • Determining spousal support; and
  • Other financial issues such as business ownerships and retirement plans.

Getting a few items in order will help you prepare for what’s to come.

1. Gather and Safely Store Financial and Legal Documents

All financial and legal documents pertinent to your marriage should be gathered, organized and stored in a safe place. Some couples keep meticulous records, while others must spend a bit more time tracking down financial records, contracts, and even digital conversations that are relevant to shared assets. It’s important that you have access to records such as bank statements for shared and individual accounts, tax records, and everything else that could figure into the division process.

2. Prepare for an Equitable Distribution of Marital Property

Couples who share significant assets may become concerned with how their assets will be divided. When emotions run high, one party may want to tip the financial scales due to feelings of resentment or betrayal. However, keep in mind that Illinois is an equitable distribution state, which may give you an extra incentive to come to an agreement outside of court. This is because when a couple can’t see eye to eye on key decisions, the court will step in and determine what is “equitable” for them.

In divvying up marital property, a judge may take into account factors such as:

  • Earning capacity
  • Length of marriage
  • Spouses’ ages
  • Health conditions

In most cases, you are better off relying on your attorney to walk you through this process according to the law, ensure your rights are protected, and avoid unforeseen surprises.

3. Illinois Law Says Do Not Attempt to Hide Any Assets

There is another reason to take control of financial documents. Doing so protects spouses in case an ex makes the mistake of tampering with records and other evidence that sheds light on how money was spent during the marriage. Tactics like transferring a valuable asset to a non-marital source and gifting valuables to people prior to the divorce are common ways people try to limit their perceived worth in a courtroom.

If you suspect your spouse, look out for shady asset-hiding tactics we have previously covered on this site, such as:

  1. Fake debts;
  2. A child’s custodial account;
  3. Concealing a stock in someone else’s name; and
  4. Creative ways to delay payments.

According to Illinois law, “Any person who hides or conceals any property so that it cannot be taken by virtue of an order or judgment or, on the officer’s request therefor, refuses to deliver property to the officer having an order or judgment for the taking of the property is guilty of contempt of court and subject to punishment.”

4. Consult with a Lawyer About Either Spouse’s Access to Funds or Accounts

One strategy that may be recommended when a highly affluent couple divorces is limiting your spouse’s access to funds by blocking a credit line or limiting their access to a bank account. But avoid making such weighty decisions automatically out of fear. You want a partner who has represented high-net-worth clients in the past. When exploring your options, ask about the kind of asset discovery the law firm has done and how they handle complex cases such as couples who share business assets.

5. Contact Law Office of David A. King, P.C., to Protect Your Assets Throughout Your Divorce

If you have assets to protect in your marriage, it’s always smart to consult with an experienced family law attorney. Even if you’re unsure of what lies ahead, your lawyer can help you enter an appropriate contractual agreement based on your current circumstances. At the Law Office of David A. King, P.C., we will help you determine what contributions you and your spouse have brought into the marriage and whether your ex may have misused any marital funds.

If appropriate, we can draft a contract designed to suit your individual needs and protect your financial well-being through a variety of methods:

  1. Prenuptial Agreement
  2. Postnuptial Agreement
  3. Asset Discovery Process

Contact our office for a free consultation today.


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