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Preparing for your high-asset divorce

On Behalf of | Sep 12, 2023 | Family Law |

The end of a marriage often brings stress and emotions such as anger, sadness and resentment. Knowing you must handle complicated matters such as property division while feeling like this can be overwhelming, especially if you and your spouse own a lot of assets.

While property division is a part of most divorces, the process can be more complex in high-asset divorces because you feel there is more to lose. There is no specific definition of a high-asset divorce, but it is usually one where one or both spouses own over $1 million in assets.

Property division in Georgia divorces

Georgia courts use an equitable distribution model when dividing marital property. This means marital property is divided fairly.

The first step in property division is classifying your property as marital or separate property. Marital property is property you and your spouse acquired during your marriage, while separate property is property you owned before marriage, with some exceptions.

There are many things you can do to prepare for your high-asset divorce to obtain this fair outcome.

Get a clear idea of your financial picture

Start identifying and valuing your assets as soon as possible. Consider hiring a financial expert to help with this or to search for any hidden assets.

Sometimes one spouse is unaware of all the marital assets that are out there and their values. A financial expert can help you uncover all assets you might forget about or not be aware of and obtain an accurate valuation.

Be honest about your finances

Do not hide assets yourself. The discovery process is a part of every divorce. This is when you and your spouse share information about your assets, debts and income.

If your spouse suspects you are downplaying the value of assets or hiding them, they may hire their own financial expert or forensic accountant to uncover the assets. This can make your divorce even messier and more complicated.

Additionally, judges often frown upon that type of behavior, and sometimes it is even cited as a factor when determining property division. A spouse who tries to hide assets could be awarded a less than fair share of the marital estate.

Remember to consider tax consequences

Property division usually comes with tax consequences from selling or splitting assets, investments or retirement accounts. Any tax implications should be closely scrutinized in a high-asset divorce. Do not forget to analyze these before signing a property division agreement.

Consider an option such as mediation to resolve property division rather than going straight to litigation. Taking your case into court means you give up control over the terms of your property division and leave it in the hands of a judge.

Even if you are not on good terms with your spouse, trying to come to your own agreement in mediation usually results in a happier outcome for both of you. Many times, both parties walk away unhappy with a judge’s decision.

There is no guaranteed way to make sure your high-asset divorce goes as smoothly as possible, but being prepared and making an honest, good faith effort often leads to good outcomes.