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What Makes a High Asset Divorce More Complicated?Every divorce has a complex array of marital properties that must be divided between the spouses, but high asset divorces take that complexity to a different level. People going through high asset divorces often need to work with multiple financial professionals, such as appraisers and forensic accountants. These professionals are worth the expense because a mistake in a high asset divorce could cost you a significant amount of money. Here are four reasons why a high asset divorce can be more complicated than an average divorce:

  1. It Can Be Difficult to Track Down All of Your Assets: A high asset divorce often has a variety of properties, such as real estate, businesses, investments, and collectibles. The properties may be spread out into accounts and locations in different states or countries. You need to be thorough in searching for marital properties so they are all accounted for in the divorce. It is possible that your spouse may be hiding assets in order to protect them.
  2. Asset Valuations May Require Multiple Appraisers: Besides identifying your marital assets, it is also important to determine the value of the assets. You may need an appraiser with a specialized area of knowledge for some properties in a high asset divorce. For instance, a fine art appraiser will give you the most accurate valuation of an art collection. Other properties, such as a business, may require extensive research to determine their true values.
  3. Spousal Maintenance May Be More Crucial: If one spouse makes a majority of the income in a high asset marriage, the other spouse will be more reliant on receiving spousal maintenance after a divorce. The recipient spouse can reasonably expect to maintain a similar living standard following the divorce, which may not be possible on their own. The amount of maintenance that the recipient needs may be more than what the payor wants, which can make negotiations difficult.
  4. Both Sides Are More Likely to Contest the Divorce Agreement: There can be millions of dollars at stake in a high asset divorce, which neither party wants to give up. Your spouse may fight you on the value of the assets and how they should be divided. If you cannot come to an agreement on your own, you may need to take your dispute to court, where a judge will decide how the divorce agreement should be constructed.

Contact a Naperville, Illinois, Divorce Lawyer

If you are about to go through a high asset divorce, you need a lawyer who is experienced with finding hidden assets and conducting complex property valuations. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., will make sure you receive your fair share of the property in your divorce. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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How to Be Amicable in a High Asset DivorceEvery divorce in Illinois follows the same laws, regardless of the couple’s net worth and how many assets they own. Still, a high asset divorce is usually more complicated than other divorces and can take longer to negotiate if you did not have the foresight to create a prenuptial agreement. However, the complexity of the division of properties does not mean you must have a contentious divorce. For instance, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos had what publicly appeared to be an amicable divorce earlier this year, despite the fact that he is one of the richest people in the world. There are several keys to keeping your high asset divorce amicable:

  1. Be Thorough in Your Preparations: It is difficult to trust each other during a divorce if you believe that your spouse is hiding or misrepresenting the value of assets. It is your divorce attorney’s job to identify all of your marital properties and assess their value. This process is more difficult with a high asset divorce because of the sheer volume of properties, some of which are complicated to evaluate. Properties in high asset divorces often include luxury items, multiple homes, business interests, and lucrative retirement benefits.
  2. Be Fair: If you amassed your wealth through business dealings, you may be familiar with using aggressive tactics during negotiations. You should understand that divorce agreements follow different rules than business agreements. The goal is for both spouses to leave with an equitable share of assets that help them maintain a familiar standard of living. This often means that the higher-earning spouse must support the financially dependent spouse through spousal maintenance and high-value assets. Even if you believe that your spouse should become financially independent, they will need time to reach that independence.
  3. Be Creative: An advantage of a high asset divorce is that there are plenty of ways for you to reach an agreement that puts you both in a strong financial position. You have options for dividing properties that other divorcees do not, such as giving yourself or your spouse assets that have more growth potential than present value. You can also mix and match your properties so that each of you is receiving something that is personally valuable. Keep an open mind to creative solutions that your divorce attorney may present to you.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

When going through a high asset divorce, it is important to hire an attorney who is experienced in such cases. A Naperville, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Calabrese Associates, P.C., understands the complexities of a high asset divorce. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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Financial Infidelity Can Destroy Trust in MarriagePeople usually associate infidelity in a marriage with having a romantic affair. There are other ways that spouses can lie to or hide things from each other that are just as hurtful. One way that is receiving increased attention is financial infidelity, which is when a spouse has secret financial accounts or debts. Financial infidelity is not only a betrayal of trust, but it also puts the unaware spouse at financial risk. In some cases, the betrayal may be serious enough that the spouses choose to divorce.

Understanding Financial Infidelity

Digital technology makes it easy for someone to create secret accounts or conduct financial activities without their spouse knowing. The person can control everything remotely and hide records. As with most lies, the truth comes to light usually when the lying spouse feels compelled to confess or the unaware spouse discovers evidence of the secret finances. There are several reasons why a spouse may have secret assets or debts:

  • The assets could be paying for a romantic affair;
  • The spouse may have an addiction, such as gambling, shopping, or substance abuse;
  • The spouse may have obtained the money illegally; or
  • The spouse may be siphoning away money because they are preparing to leave the marriage.

Regardless of the reason, financial infidelity affects both spouses because they are both liable for debts accumulated. Even if there are no debts, the money diverted to the secret account could have been used to pay for marital expenses, child expenses, or retirement savings.

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Limited Tax Deductions May Make Keeping Home CostlierThe elimination of the alimony tax deduction has rightfully received the most attention amongst the recent changes to the federal tax laws. Not being able to deduct your spousal maintenance payments from your federal taxes is changing how divorcees negotiate their maintenance. However, changes to tax deductions related to real estate could affect whether you want to keep a home or other real property after a divorce. People in high-asset divorces may have fewer tax deductions available to them.

Tax Deductions

One of the goals of the federal tax reform law passed in 2017 was to simplify the tax code. The standard deduction for a single filer increased from $6,000 to $12,000, but many other deductions were reduced or eliminated, including:

  • Capping deductions for state and local income and property taxes at $10,000 when filing as a single person or a married couple filing jointly, or at $5,000 for a married person filing separately;
  • Eliminating deductions for home equity loan interest unless the loan was used to pay for improvements towards a primary or secondary home;
  • Reducing the mortgage interest tax deduction from $1 million to $750,000 if the mortgage was obtained after Dec. 15, 2017; and
  • Eliminating deductions for foreign real estate taxes.

Some of the people who stand to lose the most from the tax deduction changes are those who own multiple real properties and those who live in areas with high local income and property taxes. Even though the standard deduction has doubled, people in a high-asset divorce may have been able to save more money on taxes with the previous deductions intact.

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How to Tell If You Are in a High Asset DivorceA high asset divorce means high stakes for both sides during the division of property. The properties in a high asset divorce are both valuable and numerous, making the property assessment process more difficult. How do you identify whether you will be going through a high asset divorce? Besides the incomes of yourself and your spouse, there are several types of properties that are typical in a high asset divorce:

  1. Multiple Real Estate Properties: Your home is often the most valuable property in your marriage. In a high asset divorce, you may own several real estate properties, such as a seasonal home, undeveloped land, or a building which you allow other people to rent.
  2. Multiple Vehicles: Each spouse has his or her own vehicle in a typical divorce. In a high asset divorce, you may have additional vehicles that you use for recreational purposes or keep as collector’s items. Common examples include vintage cars, motorcycles, and boats.
  3. Business Ownership: Owning a business can be more lucrative than being an employee. If your spouse is a business owner, he or she has likely invested substantial money into it and has many valuable assets tied to it. A business valuation can determine the current and potential value of the business, which may be a marital property.
  4. Investments: Money in the stock market or business interests may be paying dividends now or promising payouts in the future. You need to carefully evaluate these assets during your divorce. Some investments have a low current value but have the potential to increase in value. However, it is risky to overvalue the potential of investments in case they do not increase in value as expected.
  5. Benefits and Insurance: People in high asset divorces have often been saving towards their retirement for years. You are entitled to a fair share of the retirement benefits that your spouse has accumulated during your marriage. Your spouse may also have a life insurance policy with cash value that you can divide.
  6. Collectibles and Luxury Items: People use their disposable income to purchase items that interest them. In a high asset divorce, those items may be valuable, such as art, jewelry, and memorabilia. The value of these items is part of the division of property because marital income was used to buy them.

Property in a High Asset Divorce

You should not assume that you know the actual value of your marital assets during your divorce. You need a professional assessor to identify valuable properties from your marriage and determine their worth. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., has experience working with clients in high asset divorces. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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