For spouses in high-net-worth families, the division of property is a critical (and often complex) component of the divorce process. Under Indiana law, all assets owned by either spouse are potentially subject to division – whether acquired prior to or during the marriage. There is also an initial presumption that these assets should be split 50/50. As a result, high-net-worth spouses typically have a lot at stake in the divorce process, and they need to prepare accordingly.
Three Key Considerations in High-Net-Worth Divorces
1. What is “Equitable” Under the Circumstances of Your Divorce?
In order to deviate from the 50/50 split that serves as the starting point for dividing a couple’s “marital pot” in a divorce, you need to be able to show that it is equitable to do so. There are several factors that the Indiana courts consider when deciding what is equitable under the circumstances; and, whether your divorce ends up in court or you and your spouse pursue an amicable resolution through informal means (such as negotiation, mediation or collaborative divorce), addressing the impact of each of these factors is a critical early step in the divorce process.
2. Protecting What Matters Most
Concurrently with developing a strategy to position the equitable distribution factors in your favor, it is also important to begin thinking about what matters most in terms of your real and personal property. Unless you signed a comprehensive (and enforceable) prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, under Indiana law it is a virtual certainty that you will need to make decisions about giving up certain assets in your divorce.
While splitting individual assets is an option (for example, dividing investment and retirement accounts or selling real estate and dividing the net profit), in most cases, spouses will agree to give up their rights to certain assets in exchange for receiving exclusive rights to others.
So, what matters most to you? Equally important, what matters most to your spouse? Are your interests divergent enough that your property division could be relatively straightforward; or, will you need to develop a negotiation or litigation strategy focused on making sure you get to keep your most important assets after your divorce?
3. Do You Have a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement?
If you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the terms of your agreement may supersede the default rules that would otherwise apply. Indiana law allows fiancés and married couples to agree to the terms of their property division in advance; and, if you have an agreement in place that outlines the terms of your property settlement, it will be essential to understand how and to what extent your agreement will play a role in your divorce. Enforceability with these types of agreements can be an issue, so one of the first steps will be to determine whether your spouse may have grounds to argue that your agreement is null and void.
Schedule a Complimentary Initial Divorce Consultation
If you are preparing for a high-net-worth divorce and would like to speak with an attorney, contact Hains Law, LLC in Carmel, Indiana. Attorney Joshua R. Hains brings over a decade of experience to representing clients in the divorce process, and he offers a custom-tailored approach that focuses on protecting each client’s unique interests in light of their individual personal and family circumstances. For a complimentary initial consultation, please call (317) 588-2883 or inquire online today.