Divorce can be a complex legal ordeal for any married couple wishing to separate. When the spouses involved have a high net worth as individuals or as a couple, the process can be even more complicated.

Ensuring that every asset is properly classified and divided appropriately can be difficult without multiple financial experts and a skilled Pearland divorce attorney.

The high-net-worth divorce lawyers at Terry & Roberts have the experience and skill to make the process as simple as possible for you. We help you resolve complicated financial matters in the shortest amount of time so you can get the closure you need to move forward. Contact us to schedule a meeting so we can evaluate your situation and get started.

High Net Worth Divorce Defined

Anyone with assets totaling at least $1 million is considered to have a high net worth. If both spouses earn high incomes and own many joint ventures, splitting the assets in an equal and agreeable manner can be a challenge. If one or both spouses are in the public eye, privacy and discretion are important.

The legal representation you choose can make all the difference in the outcome of the divorce proceedings. High net worth divorce cases require a team of experienced divorce lawyers with a background in multiple fields. They may also call on other professionals, such as:

  • Child and family experts: For custody decisions, a child or family specialist may be consulted to make a recommendation on what is best for the children involved in a divorce.
  • Discovery experts: Sometimes, assets are claimed in discovery documents, yet the other party refuses to or is unable to provide documentation or evidence. In this case, a discovery expert will investigate the situation.
  • Financial experts: One or more financial experts may be needed to determine the worth of a business or the tax consequences involved in business transactions or other complex financial matters.
  • Mental health experts: In cases where one or both spouses’ mental health is in question, a psychologist or psychiatrist may be consulted. These issues appear frequently during custody battles or situations of domestic violence.
  • Real estate experts: In order to determine the value and ownership of property, a real estate expert is often used to appraise any commercial or residential property owned jointly or by either individual.
  • Specialized experts: If there are assets involved that are difficult to assign value to, such as artwork, livestock, or antiques, special experts in the necessary fields may be consulted.
  • Tracing experts: It is necessary to determine what assets are considered to be separately owned and which can be categorized as community property in Texas. This analysis can be conducted by tracing experts who research the asset’s purchase history before and during the marriage.

Splitting a Jointly-Owned Business

Our financial experts can evaluate your business to determine its overall value and each spouse’s contribution. This information is used in divorce proceedings to determine what will happen with the business going forward. Along with financial investment, our experts can assess the “sweat equity” one spouse may have contributed to the business’s success.

In some cases, the business is simply awarded to the spouse with the greatest investment in it. In other cases, one spouse buys out the other’s ownership. When appropriate and both parties can agree on a reasonable approach to doing so, both spouses will continue to operate the business together.

Financial Information Confidentiality

It is important to hire a high-net-worth divorce lawyer who can ensure confidentiality and discretion, especially if you or your spouse are in the public eye. Just being a prominent business owner in the community can mean you wish to keep your divorce proceedings private in order to avoid a negative impact on your business. Financial statements and other documentation can be protected by the court and kept under seal and thus made unavailable as part of the public case file.

Retirement Funds and Life Insurance Plans

After a divorce, you can update the beneficiaries on various financial documents, including your retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other assets to remove your ex-spouse. It is important to make sure this is taken care of as soon as possible after the divorce. Otherwise, your ex may still be entitled to these benefits. Beneficiaries are not automatically updated when a divorce is finalized.

Our High Asset Divorce Attorneys Understand Complex Property Division in Texas

In a high-net-worth divorce involving complex assets in Texas, the spouses often have a varied portfolio of holdings. Both parties may have obtained some items, making them marital property. Others may have been brought into the union or received from inheritance. Untangling which high-value assets belong to which partner is a challenging part of family law and one that your divorce attorney in Pearland, TX at Terry & Roberts thoroughly understands.

Your lawyer will begin by engaging appraisers to provide a valuation for each item so an accurate property division agreement can be developed. Divorce cases for high-net-worth individuals often include marital assets such as:

  • All real estate holdings, including vacation homes and investment properties
  • Artwork, heirloom furniture, or collections
  • Bank accounts, including checking and savings
  • Brokerage investment accounts
  • Businesses owned by the couple or their families
  • Child support payments and visitation
  • Debts and liabilities, such as credit cards, loans, and mortgages
  • Spousal support, formerly known as alimony
  • Stock options, retirement accounts, and pensions
  • Undisclosed digital currency holdings or offshore assets
  • Vehicles such as cars, RVs, helicopters, motorcycles, boats, and planes

Emotions can run high when discussing whether an asset is separate property or community property, often requiring the guidance of an experienced high-asset divorce attorney in Pearland, TX to keep things moving forward. A case involving significant assets may also be subject to a couple’s prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

Texas Divorces Are Subject to Community Property Division Laws

Texas is a community property state, and if there is no previous agreement, property division falls under the description of Texas Family Code, Chapter 7. Items will be divided in a “just and right” manner between the parties, which is not always a 50/50 division of assets. In addition, debts and other liabilities will be separated equitably.

Some of the most complicated discussions involve whether property is marital or separate. Each party can present a valuation of each asset and evidence supporting their claim it is theirs alone and should go to them in the divorce. The respective attorneys may negotiate this, but the family court judge will be the one who issues a ruling on each asset as needed.

The usual qualifications for property to be designated as separate include:

  • The asset was a gift or inheritance given to one spouse only.
  • The asset was owned or claimed by one spouse prior to the marriage.
  • The asset is composed of funds received as a settlement in a personal injury case, minus medical costs and lost wages.
  • The asset is composed of stock dividends or capital gains earned by the spouse on their separate investments.

Business Interests: Business Valuation and Divorce in a Community Property State

Business valuation is not performed in the same manner, nor is it subject to the same laws as other marital property. Subtracting the business’s liabilities from its assets provides a book value. However, other factors should be included, such as:

  • Brand strength and identity
  • Client or customer loyalty
  • Current market value
  • Established reputation
  • Projected performance estimates
  • Proprietary methods, technology, or intellectual assets
  • Value of the workforce

Texas courts will want an outside evaluation performed by a professional that accounts for book value, as well as the goodwill reputation of the company.

Options for Business Owners During a Divorce

Divorcing business owners have a range of options available when separating a company. Depending on the extent of their business interest, they may choose:

  • Dividing the company: This involves splitting up contracts, inventory, assets, and debts.
  • Buying out their spouse’s share: One spouse may elect to buy out the other’s share in the company to maintain the business alone.
  • Selling, dissolving, or liquidating the business: Spouses may be unable to come to an agreement, and selling the company may be the best solution.
  • Operating the company together: When there is less conflict in a divorce, couples may be able to end their marriage but maintain a strong working relationship.

The decision will be based on the unique circumstances between the couple and how they expect to interact in the future. Spouses must be honest with themselves and each other about the chance of success for each potential solution.

Business Valuation Mistakes

Making a mistake or failing to acquire all the necessary information during a business valuation can lead to an uneven division of assets. In a liquidation, both parties may lose substantial value. In a sale, the new owner may receive an overrated business that fails to perform as expected.

Without an experienced high-asset divorce attorney assisting with your case, you could fall victim to business valuation mistakes such as:

  • One spouse fails to disclose all of the business’s assets and debts.
  • The assessment does not allow for special conditions such as limited contracts, industry factors, or market risks.
  • You choose a valuation method the courts will not accept.
  • You do not use a professional appraiser or forensic accountant.

Child Custody, Child Support, and Spousal Support in High Asset Divorce Cases

The Texas Family Code recognizes three types of child custody (known as conservatorship in Texas). These are joint managing conservator, sole managing conservator, and possessory conservator. Conservatorship addresses who will have the authority to make decisions for the child’s education, medical care, and other aspects of their life.

When the court finds the child’s best interests are served by having both parents involved in their life, it will order joint managing conservatorship. Spouses can draft a parenting plan, which is presented to the judge for amendment or approval.

When one parent is awarded sole managing conservatorship, the other may receive possessory conservatorship so they have visitation rights with the child. In general, the parents are expected to make decisions together about education and medical care, but the custodial parent will manage the day-to-day details.

Child Support Factors in Texas

Child support is one of the most contentious subjects in any divorce, and this is especially true in high-asset divorces. The paying parent is obligated to provide monetary support until a child turns 18 or graduates high school (whichever is later). The amount of child support payments is described in the Texas Family Code, Chapter 54.

The law uses the following percentages for payments:

  • One child: 20% of the monthly net income
  • Two children: 25% of the monthly net income
  • Three children: 30% of the monthly net income
  • Four children: 35% of the monthly net income
  • Five children: 40% of the monthly net income
  • Six or more children: at least 40% of the monthly net income

Spousal Support in High-Asset Divorce Cases

Spousal support (known as maintenance in Texas) is voluntary but can be requested in one of four situations:

  1. The paying spouse was convicted of family violence against the other spouse and / or their children in the previous two years before the divorce petition or while the petition is pending.
  2. The union lasted at least 10 years, and the requesting spouse does not have the means to provide for the child or children’s needs, either from lack of skills or a disability. Parenting a disabled child can also be a qualifier.
  3. Both spouses agree maintenance is to be paid for a specified duration.
  4. When one spouse is in the U.S. as an immigrant and their partner signed an Affidavit of Support to provide for the person until they attain citizenship or earn 40 work credits.

Contact High Net Worth Divorce Attorneys Today

At Terry & Roberts, we have handled numerous high-net-worth divorce cases, including those with complicated business ventures and prenuptial agreements involved. We can help keep your case private and out of the public eye as you and your spouse work through this difficult experience.

Schedule a consultation with our Pearland high-asset divorce attorneys today.

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