Shaw Law Firm LLC does represent clients in high asset divorce. We have experience in cases from representing CEOs and Chairman of the Board from NASDAQ listed corporations, to professional athletes and professionals.
Representing high asset divorces are perhaps the most challenging cases in a Georgia divorce. One of the biggest challenges is setting expectations. In high income cases clients will often demand not only everything that needs to be done, but then demanding to come up with even more things to do.
A good attorney will ground a client in a high asset case, and do what is necessary, but not everything a client wants, no matter how much money is involved. It must be understood that in the end you are looking for a result, and not a circus. And focus, and sticking to what needs to get done (without creating unnecessary drama) is essential to obtaining the best results.
When the asset values are in the millions, just a few percentages, here and there, can be very valuable. Therefore, each material issues must be addressed, and focused upon. How one argues what an asset is worth, what the standard of living is during the marriage, what is marital, or what is non-marital, and what is the cause of the marital break-up can be essential.
The best way to settle cases such as this is to make complete disclosure, and work with a trusted and skilled team of experts. You want transparency for the other side and the court. That is how you can avoid the often used strategy by one side to throw everything up against the wall, exaggerate or misrepresent, and hope the court makes a mistake. Remaining grounded, being competent, meticulous and efficient is the best way to approach a high income Georgia divorce. Even if the other side is not. We will not be the side to lose our heads.
It is critical in cases like this to hire and utilize an excellent forensic accountant. Assets and debts and business affairs can be very complex and convoluted.
For the spouse who is not earning the money, a forensic accountant is essential to ensure that all assets are being disclosed, what is disclosed adds up, and from there determine how to strategically characterize and present the evidence to maximize your outcome in the case. In a Georgia divorce, the forensic accountant is invaluable to your divorce attorney to identify and find signs of financial fraud.
For the spouse who is earning the money, you will already understand your assets, and have all the documents. But that is just a start. Just because you know what your assets are worth, does not mean the court, or the opposing spouse will either agree with your assessment. what often happens in a high asset divorce in Georgia is that the other side will try to convolute and make overly complex the assets and debts, and try to get the court to make a mistake, and make an overly large award, often from “fictitious” assets, or by double, triple, or even quadruple counting assets, or by simply appraising assets at unreasonably high valuations. Sometimes even simple errors (sometimes honest) get through, like forgetting deduct the price of stock options and taxes associated with them.
An excellent financial expert will help your attorney simplify the marital estate, and make sure no mistakes are made.The credibility of your financial disclosures is enhanced when using a forensic financial expert, thus making settlement and easier proposition. The issue of double counting alimony is another issue that a forensic financial expert is necessary.
In high asset divorce in the State of Georgia, the issue of tax traps have to be considered, as a few examples:
- Marital assets can be transferred tax free pursuant to IRS 1041, but that is only if the asset is in either party’s name. An asset owned by a corporation, or LLC, is not in a party’s name and its transfer in divorce can result in tax consequences.
- Not all assets have the same tax consequences, such as when dividing stock that may have different holding periods and tax basis.
- “Capital loss carryforwards”, which are generally found on Schedule D of the parties’ income tax return, need to be considered as an asset.
- Net operating loss carryforwards need to be considered as assets.
- Sale of marital homes above IRS limits (which is often the case in high income divorces) make the sale or transfer of the marital home a potential taxable event, unlike in more traditional divorces, and need to be addressed.
- Issue of dissipation of assets (which means when one spouse essentially wastes marital assets without the knowledge of the other spouse) is often a material issue. Things such as:
- Money spent on extramarital affairs;
- Gambling losses;
- Transferring or loaning property to others;
- Selling expensive assets for less than they are worth;
- Spending down business cash account;
- Excessive spending, including hobbies;
- Destroying or failing to maintain marital property;
- Whether or not dissipation of assets has occurred, your spouse may make such a claim, and the issues will need to be defended against.
These are a few examples, and use of an excellent forensic accountant, with divorce experience, is a very valuable tool in your divorce attorney’s arsenal.
The other consideration that is particular about high asset divorce cases in the State of Georgia is the need for confidentiality and privacy. Transparency is important within the case, but keeping that information confidential from the rest of the world is essential. Confidentiality orders are a must in such cases.
High income divorces in the State of Georgia are challenging for any divorce attorney. It is a lot of responsibility, so make sure your attorney takes this responsibility seriously. Your attorney needs to have business experience, and personal understanding of complex finance, and a relationship with excellent professionals, the most important such professional is a forensic accountant. A vocational expert becomes very important in a growing number of cases as well to diminish the non-working spouses claim that they lack sufficient vocational skills to take care of themselves in alimony claims.
More than this, your attorney needs to be able to communicate with you, and keep you grounded. The strategy taken in the case will depend on whether or not you are the high income spouse, or the spouse who supported the high income spouse. You need to work closely with your attorney and have trust that they know what they are doing.
Contact us or call today to learn how Shaw Law can work with you to achieve the best outcome possible for you and your children.
Scott Shaw is founder and principle of Shaw Law Firm LLC, founded in 1995 and dedicated solely to divorce, family law and child custody matters that must be addressed and decided in the state of Georgia. Shaw Law Firm serves the greater Metro Atlanta area, particularly the counties of Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Paulding, Henry, Fayette, Coweta, Newton, Walton, Bartow and Douglas. Schedule a consultation today at 770-594-8309.