While having a substantial estate is wonderful in many ways, it does make certain aspects of life more complicated — divorce for example. Having a high net worth means that in addition to the disorientation and emotional turmoil that typically accompany divorce, there are many more complexities to financial aspects of the process, including: asset distribution, child support, spousal maintenance, family business(es), and projected future as well as current income. For this reason, if you are contemplating a high-net-worth divorce, it is essential that you have not only an accomplished divorce attorney but one who has an excellent working knowledge of high-net-worth divorce.
In Central Florida, there is no stronger high-net-worth divorce practice than the Orlando Family Team of Ophelia Bernal-Mora, Esq., B.C.S. and Andrew Nickolaou, Esq.. Because these two well-credentialed, successful attorneys are also a married couple, they have a unique insight into how to alter the family structure while keeping you on an even keel. They are also empathetic with the emotional stress of trying to keep feelings and behavior under control while protecting any children involved (as much as possible) from the turbulence.
How High-Net-Worth Divorce Is Defined
Traditionally, a high-net-worth divorce has been defined as one involving more than $1 million dollars. With inflation, however, the definition has changed. These days, a high-net-divorce typically involves an estate of many million dollars in liquid assets.
Why Orlando Family Team Is Invaluable
One issue that frequently arises in high-net-worth divorces is that one spouse may try to hide income and assets from one another to avoid equitable distribution of the couple’s wealth. This is when the services of Orlando Family Team come in handy. We have extensive experience with high-net-worth divorces and are well-equipped to strategize about all legal and financial matters involved. Agile negotiators, we will always try to obtain a reasonable agreement without going to court, but you can depend on our aggressive litigation tactics if we have to go to trial.
Issues To Be Decided in a High-Net-Worth Divorce
In all divorces, whether they take place in Central Florida or anywhere else, various matters, financial and otherwise, must be agreed upon by both parties. If the spouses are unable to agree, the court will make the decisions.
State laws differ in the way they handle the division of assets during a divorce proceeding. Under Florida divorce law, the law demands “equitable distribution,” meaning that the marital assets are to be divided fairly, but not necessarily cut into 50-50 portions. Equitable distribution only applies to marital property – property acquired or earned during the marriage. Excluded from marital assets are:
- Assets that each spouse brought to the marriage
- Inheritances bequeathed to only one spouse
- Personal injury awards
- Gifts that were given personally to only one spouse
Interestingly, however, gifts given to one spouse by the other during the marriage are considered marital property.
The first step Orlando Family Team will take for you will be to perform a thorough analysis of your combined marital assets and debts through a process known as “discovery.” In addition to seeking out assets your spouse may be hiding, for instance in foreign bank accounts or investments, we will be on the alert for assets your spouse may devalue in an effort to do you out of your fair share.
There are many cases in which only the spouse who collects antique cars, for example, knows the true value of an automobile he/she owns. As your legal representatives, we will make sure to have all assets valuated by experts in the field (e.g. antique dealers or jewelers). We will also check to make sure your soon-to-be ex has not taken money from joint accounts prior to the divorce filing.
As you can see, a great deal of investigative work is necessary to protect your interests. We will have accounting experts go through financial statements, tax documents, pay stubs, business accounts, and all other financial records to ensure that you will be treated justly. For over two decades we have protected clients in high-net-worth divorces from being fleeced and we are eager to provide you with the same protection.
Although alimony is not nearly as frequently part divorce settlements as it once was, there are still situations in which spousal maintenance may be awarded. Under Florida law, it may be rehabilitative maintenance, awarded temporarily to bridge the gap as one spouse transitions, preparing to be a wage earner, durational, awarded for a certain period of time such as while children are young, or permanent.
Permanent spousal maintenance is only awarded when the receiving spouse is considerably older, disabled, or in poor health. Whatever your particular situation, Orlando Family Team is on your side. We will work tirelessly to see that you receive the spousal maintenance you deserve or, conversely, that you are not unfairly forced to subsidize a spouse who is already wealthy.
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements in Florida
High-net-worth divorces are more likely to involve prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, especially if one partner has brought substantially more assets to the marriage. These days, when almost half of all U.S. marriages end in divorce, this may be viewed as practical, even if unromantic. Postnuptial agreements may occur when one partner brings large amounts of money into the marriage through a sizeable increase in income or the profits of a business she/he alone has established. If skeptical about the duration of the marriage, that spouse may initiate a postnuptial agreement.
For the most part, courts will follow the stipulations of a “prenup,” though a court may find certain provisions unenforceable or even invalidate the entire agreement. This is why you need a savvy hight-net-worth attorney at your side. Historically, courts have favored prenuptial over postnuptial agreements, believing the former more likely to be fair.
When Your Wealth and Stability Are at Stake, Contact Orlando Family Team
Ophelia Bernal-Mora, Esq., B.C.S. and Andrew Nickolaou, Esq. have been handling high-net-worth divorces for over 20 years and have a host of well-satisfied clients. We know how difficult it is to go through complicated financial machinations at the same time as you are emotionally burdened. We have the legal talent and compassion to support you through this challenging time. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we will begin protecting your assets and restoring your sense of security.