If you are facing a high-asset divorce in Washington, it can be a stressful and overwhelming process. Our team of Spokane divorce lawyers want to discuss some important considerations to keep in mind as you take the first step towards dissolving your marriage.
Having a compiled list of assets can be beneficial in a high-asset divorce. When making your list, be as transparent and truthful about your assets as possible. Washington is a community property state, meaning that most property acquired throughout a marriage is jointly owned by each spouse and must be distributed in a “just and right” manner. The property a spouse acquires before marriage or after divorce is considered their sole separate property. Additionally, property acquired by a spouse in only their name during marriage through gift, bequest, or devise, is also separate property. It will also be helpful to make a note of your partner’s assets to encourage accountability. If you or your spouse owns a business, you will likely need to arrange for a valuation of it and other high-value assets before they can be divided accurately.
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
If both parties agree to uphold an existing prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, it could reduce financial complications in a high-asset divorce. A carefully crafted prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may contain language outlining highly contested marital issues such as asset division and spousal support. Therefore, there may be no need to negotiate these issues to reach a settlement agreement. However, there is no guarantee that a Washington court will agree to enforce this contract if both parties do not benefit from it.
Hire a Forensic Accountant
Hiring a forensic accountant can be critical to valuing and dividing property in a complex, high-asset divorce. They will closely analyze each spouse’s financial situation to ensure fair property valuation and division. Forensic accountants will also dig deeper to look for hidden assets and any inconsistencies between claims and financial records. It is not uncommon for a spouse to forget or deny certain assets.
Spouses with a large number of assets or those who earn a higher income have reason to be concerned about spousal support. Particularly if their spouse did not work much or at all during the marriage. If one spouse has been dependent on the high-income earner’s pay, there is a greater chance that a judge will award them spousal support to provide for their needs. However, in addition to each partner’s financial situation, the court will still consider the length of the marriage, separate property accumulated, each spouse’s individual health and educational background, and more.
Seriously Consider Mediation
When facing a high-asset divorce, you may think that going straight to litigation will be the most effective strategy to achieve fairness. However, pursuing resolution through the courts relinquishes your control in the terms of your settlement. Therefore, you and your spouse may end up with a settlement that neither of you is satisfied with. Divorce mediation can be more cost-effective and an efficient way to help you resolve issues related to property division, spousal support, child support, and a parenting plan, if applicable.