About 95 percent of divorces settle out of court. If you find yourself heading towards that five percent who must litigate property division issues, it can be stressful. Below, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about marital asset division during divorce, particularly with high net worth divorces, since they are least likely to settle. Make sure you have an Annapolis divorce lawyer handling your case.
This is an overview of things to consider and discuss with your asset division attorney:
Alimony (also known as spousal maintenance) is another factor that you want to try to agree on, rather than letting a judge decide. If the court decides, these are the factors that will be evaluated:
Community property states divide marital assets 50/50. Maryland, however, is an “equitable division” state, meaning assets are split based on what is equitable, not what is 50/50. What this means as far as your individual assets is that it’s time to start gathering documents supporting your ownership, receipts for payments you made, and so on.
Property division requires a lot of documentation. High net worth divorces in Maryland can be especially complex because a judge has to determine what is “fair” in dividing a lot more assets. This leaves room to interpret what is fair.
Being able to agree on a “no-fault” divorce is an important start to being able to agree on other aspects of the divorce. Additionally, a no-fault divorce generally reflects better on asset division.
If one spouse is shown to be at fault (adultery, cruelty, abandonment, incarceration, etc.), that can sometimes translate into being awarded fewer assets. There are two ways to get a no-fault divorce in Maryland:
Hiding assets is fraud, which is illegal and carries a hefty penalty. Furthermore, concealing the true and complete nature of your finances can negatively impact your child custody and support order. To be clear, hiding assets is a bad idea.
If you think your spouse might be concealing assets, let us know. We can examine your options to uphold your property division rights.
Sometimes one spouse will empty a joint bank account and move the money to an individual bank account. Let us know if your spouse does this, and we can properly address the matter with the court. Further, you should avoid doing this to avoid unnecessary complications with your property division.
High net worth divorces tend to be the ones that are unable to settle out of court, as mentioned above. Here are a few nuances to consider about divorces with over one million dollars in assets:
Since only about 5 percent of couples have prenups, you might consider whether creating a postnuptial agreement is possible.
A postnuptial agreement is like a prenup, except that it is created during marriage and before filing for divorce. So, if your divorce has not yet been filed or your spouse doesn’t know you want to divorce, this is an option.
To be valid, the postnuptial agreement must include non-technical, accessible language around any rights being waived and:
There are out-of-court options to help you and your spouse settle your property division. These methods are known as “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR). ADR includes mediation and arbitration:
Both methods of ADR tend to be cheaper, faster, and easier than litigating in court. You do not need to be represented by a lawyer to use either method of ADR. Some mediators will actually not let attorneys attend mediation sessions.
It is still highly advisable to consult with an attorney so you have a clear understanding of your rights and responsibilities, have a strategy, and so on.
When you are reaching out to different divorce lawyers, remember that not every lawyer—or even every divorce lawyer—specializes in asset division or high net worth cases. Furthermore, remember you are interviewing the lawyer for the job of representing you in this matter. Here are a few questions to ask during your initial meeting:
The Law Office of Patrick Crawford practices family law and has all the experience you need to assist in resolving a sticky property division situation. There is a lot on the line, and you don’t want to jeopardize your future finances. Contact us today to set up a free consultation. Call: 410-787-6546