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Luxury or Lifestyle? Dealing with Equitable Division and Alimony in High-Net Worth Divorces

When couples going through a divorce have a lot of money or wealth, there is a good chance that they possess more assets than couples with average incomes. They may have various trusts, real estate properties, investments, stocks, savings, retirement accounts, cars, boats, art pieces, jewelry, and other valuable items.

However, just like any other type of divorce, high net worth divorces still involve child support, child custody, alimony, and property division. The difference is that these divorces usually require more in-depth review as well as strong and knowledgeable representation and advocacy from a lawyer.

The types of assets that are usually distributed in high net worth divorces

There are many different types of assets that may be distributed in high net worth divorces, including:

  • Real estate properties and businesses
  • Retirement and 401K accounts
  • Bonds
  • Pensions
  • Investments
  • Stocks
  • Timeshares
  • Portfolios
  • Bonuses and benefits
  • Inheritances
  • Expensive items, such as artwork, sports or vintage vehicles, collectibles, jewelry, or antique objects

How does equitable distribution work in Charlotte, North Carolina?

According to North Carolina § 50-20, marital property is considered to be all property that is obtained by one or both spouses during their marriage. That said, any property that either spouse gains before separation and after marriage is considered marital property, and the North Carolina courts distribute this property equally. This means that the spouses typically receive 50 percent each of the marital property when going through a divorce.

Separate property is any property that a spouse received before they got married. Sometimes during the marriage, a gift can be considered separate property if it specifically states that it is for only one of the individuals. In addition, business and professional licenses are considered to be separate property.

North Carolina § 50-20 (C) states that “there shall be an equal division by using net value of marital property and net value of divisible property unless the court determines that an equal division is not equitable. If the court determines that an equal division is not equitable, the court shall divide the marital property equitably.” Therefore, if the court decides that an equal 50-50 division of the marital property is not fair, the assets will need to be carefully reviewed and determined how they should be divided among both spouses.

Can assets be hidden in high net worth divorces?

High net worth divorces are not only more complex and complicated than average divorces, but they are also known to have a greater risk of spouses lying about or hiding their assets. Many of these spouses will hide, transfer, or devalue their money or property to try to ensure that their spouse does not receive their fair share of it.

While some people think that they can get away with doing this, seasoned divorce lawyers and the courts usually have a way of finding this information out. This can be a little more difficult in high net worth divorces, but it is not impossible. Charlotte divorce attorneys know what to look for and how to locate the hidden assets. That said, the legal consequences are often serious when they are found.

How are hidden assets found in high net worth divorces?

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for high net worth divorces to involve hidden or additional assets that are not listed. Therefore, a family law attorney may need to search and locate the assets that you and your spouse own to make sure that you both are being given a fair share of all assets. Common hidden assets are stocks, collectibles, business interests, royalties, money, and more. Your attorney will try to locate what they can on their own, but they may eventually need to work with forensic accountants and other professionals who are trained on how to find and uncover hidden marital property and assets. After doing so, they will determine how much these assets are worth and equally distribute them.

What about alimony or spousal support?

Spouses may decide to seek alimony or spousal support if they are dependent on their spouse and need continued financial support after the divorce. However, there are several different factors that the court will consider before determining if the spouse may receive alimony, such as:

  • Marital misconduct
  • Financial earnings and income
  • Ages
  • Emotional, physical, and mental health conditions
  • The length of the marriage
  • The standard of living that the spouses had while married
  • How long it may take the spouse to find employment to pay for their financial needs
  • The properties that the spouses own or brought into the marriage
  • The needs of both spouses
  • If one spouse was a homemaker, how much they contributed to the marriage in this role

In high net worth divorces, both parties may have very high incomes. If this is the case, alimony is usually not a discussion factor. However, if one spouse stayed home and took care of the children throughout the marriage and now has no education, training, or licenses to get on their feet after the divorce, it may be a good idea to discuss alimony.

North Carolina § 50-16.1A defines a dependent spouse as a “spouse, whether husband or wife, who is actually substantially dependent upon the other spouse for his or her maintenance and support or is substantially in need of maintenance and support from the other spouse.” If this sounds like you, it may be advisable that you speak with your Charlotte family law attorney about your options for alimony. You may be awarded temporary alimony or post separation support during the meantime to make sure that you are not left with no support at all.

The Charlotte divorce attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC have years of experience in helping clients navigate the challenges of high net worth divorces. That said, you will never have to worry about whether or not our team is experienced, skilled, and knowledgeable when it comes to these types of cases. We understand the stress and worry about your future during this difficult time, which is why you need strong and aggressive lawyers by your side throughout the entire process.

Call Epperson Law Group, PLLC, or submit our contact form to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation. We have office locations in Charlotte, Boone, Concord, and Weddington for your convenience.