Whether you and your spouse entered marriage with substantial assets or significantly increased your wealth during the marriage, a high-net-worth divorce in Pennsylvania can involve special considerations that require careful attention. While any divorce involving more than $1 million in assets can be considered high-net-worth, the term is mostly used to describe complex property portfolios and income sources that must be allocated. Here are some of the chief areas of concern:
- Property — High-net-worth marriages typically involve more diversified holdings. Marital funds may be invested in real estate, stocks and bonds, businesses, art, luxury items, vehicles and other assets. Pennsylvania courts look to divide all marital property equitably during a divorce. The process of accounting for all property may take months or longer, owing to the need to evaluate numerous items and search for potential hidden assets.
- Income sources — Either party to a high-net-worth divorce may have multiple non-salary sources of income, such as securities, trust funds, rents, pensions and executive compensation packages. Each of these must be evaluated and analyzed regarding whether they will take on the status of “asset” or “income” in the divorce before a support award can be
- Business ownership — A business owned by one or both spouses during the marriage will need to be thoroughly analyzed as to its status as part of the marital assets. A forensic accountant will likely be hired to perform an evaluation to determine the value of the business that was acquired during the marriage.
- Child support — While a standard formula is used to calculate child support obligations for most Pennsylvania families, a different process for couples whose combined monthly earnings total more than $30,000. To prevent parents from being obligated with support payments that far exceed or fail to meet what is needed to cover a child’s expenses, courts apply additional scrutiny in regard to the child’s reasonable needs as well as their standard of living prior to the divorce.
- Alimony —Support payments for a spouse post-divorce are intended to help the receiving spouse meet their reasonable needs. Because a high-net-worth marriage may be marked by a lavish lifestyle, the court evaluates the need for alimony by an analysis of the statutory factors, including the quality of life they experienced during the marriage, as well as considering the unique circumstances of the case.
- Prenuptial agreements — A prenuptial agreement may avert many of the difficulties that can arise in a high-net-worth divorce. However, it is possible that the agreement will be challenged on the terms that it was signed under coercion, or in some other circumstance that makes it invalid.
As you can see, the main issues in a high-net-worth divorce are discovery and evaluation of assets and income. The assistance of a seasoned legal team is essential to protecting your rights while analyzing complex concerns thoroughly.
At the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania law firm of Feldstein Grinberg Lang & McKee, P.C. our attorneys provide caring, comprehensive and confidential representation to individuals going through high-net-worth divorces. To schedule your free initial consultation, call 412-301-7395 or contact us online.