Divorce stirs up an abundance of emotions. You may feel sadness that the marriage did not work out. Your spouse may be angry or hurt that the marriage is ending.
Having a high net worth only complicates these feelings. If you are a high net worth individual, you’ve probably spent years working hard to build your wealth. You may fear losing everything during the divorce.
This is totally understandable. High asset divorce has many complex facets that have to be carefully addressed. An experienced divorce lawyer in Dacula, GA can provide you with specific guidance on how to handle this situation but here are some things to consider.
If you are the spouse with high assets, you have to think of what is best for your future. If you have children, you must also consider what is in their best interests.
Your spouse has to do the same. This may lead them to attempt to freeze your financial assets during the divorce process.
HIGH ASSET DIVORCE
During the divorce process, the judge will equitably distribute all marital assets. Assets include bank accounts, investment portfolios, retirement funds, insurance policies, real estate, and business holdings.
You have to disclose your assets at the beginning of the divorce process. During the discovery phase, your spouse’s attorney can subpoena bank records, tax returns, and credit card statements.
Any irregular activity, like sudden large transfers or nondisclosure of assets, will be revealed and could be detrimental to your case.
A spouse can file a motion with the court requesting that the court freeze financial assets in order to protect them. The motion must include the reasons why the spouse thinks the assets are at risk. The spouse requesting the court order may be required to sign an affidavit under oath.
The spouse requesting the motion to have a bank account or other financial assets frozen bears the responsibility of providing compelling evidence as to why this should be done. The spouse must demonstrate to the court that the other spouse will misuse or squander the funds.
The court will conduct a hearing on the motion. This is one reason why it is essential to be represented by experienced legal counsel from the start of the divorce process. The hearing is when your attorney can address the particulars of the motion. They may consider questions like
- Is the restraining order too broad?
- Does it restrict a third party (like a business partner)?
- Does it prevent you from earning a living or paying valid expenses?
If you are a business owner, you can have your divorce lawyer request that the judge allow you to operate your business during the divorce process and submit regular accountings of income and expenses. Keep in mind that this information may become public record since it is part of the court’s file.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE JUDGE APPROVES A MOTION TO FREEZE MY ASSETS?
If the judge approves the motion it will be for a certain time period and will expire on a specific date unless it is renewed by court order. Anytime while the restraining order is in effect, either spouse can file a motion requesting that the court release the frozen assets. The judge also has the option to schedule a date for a follow up hearing to evaluate whether the freeze should remain in force.
Judges have wide discretion in freezing assets because they want to preserve these resources until they are ready to equitably distribute them as part of the divorce settlement. The court acts as the neutral party in preserving the marital estate.
What you don’t want to do is appear to the court as if you are hiding assets. You want to be able to ethically and legally protect your assets without violating the law. Asset protection may include establishing irrevocable trusts or family limited partnerships. A qualified attorney can refer you to a financial planner or an estate planner who can assist with asset protection.
The experienced team at Oxendine & Sauls, LP can assist you with asset protection and other aspects of high stakes divorce.