High Asset / Net Worth

Ending a marriage can be complicated, painful and overwhelming. When you’re a couple with a high net worth, the situation can be even more convoluted. High net worth couples usually collect many valuable assets throughout a marriage. Dividing these assets in a fair and just manner can be extremely difficult.

Washington is an equitable distribution state. This means the court may distribute assets in a way they deem fair. In some cases, one spouse may leave with more assets because of the large income gap. If you or your spouse has a high net worth and are seeking to end a marriage, it’s important that you seek trusted legal representation. 

Divorce Attorney for High Assets in Seattle, Washington

It’s stressful for high net worth couples to seek a divorce. You and your spouse may have collected expensive assets during the course of your marriage. If you have a high net worth, your ex-partner may get a significant portion of your assets. Don’t spend another moment uncertain about your asset’s future. Contact the attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson today. 

The divorce lawyers at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson are skilled at representing clients with a high net worth. We will work with you in both the long and short-term to protect all your interests. Don’t enter divorce proceedings without trusted legal representation. Call the attorneys at (206) 712-2756 to schedule a consultation today.

Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson accepts clients throughout the greater King County area and surrounding communities such as Issaquah, Kent, Seattle, Redmond and Renton. 

Overview of High Net Worth Divorce in Washington


What Constitutes a High Net Worth Divorce in Washington?

Classifying a high net worth divorce by income alone can be difficult. Most high net worth divorces are based on the value of assets involved in the marriage and can include all assets owned by either spouse.   

Listed below are some possible assets or property that can determine if a divorce has a high net worth or not.

  • Timeshares;
  • Stock options;
  • Pension plans;
  • Retirement plans;
  • Inheritances;
  • Real estate;
  • Family businesses;
  • Closely-held businesses;
  • Financial portfolio;
  • Bonuses; and
  • Expensive items such as art, antiques, and vehicles.

Dividing Assets in a High Net Worth Divorce

Distributing assets is one of the most stressful aspects of divorce proceedings. The state of Washington divides property in a “just and equitable” manner. However, this doesn’t mean that your assets will be split 50/50 between you and your spouse. Instead, the court will distribute your property based on what they believe is fair. This means your spouse could walk away with some of your assets. 

Washington law only divides community property between spouses. Community property is any assets that you obtained during the course of the marriage. Separate property is any assets that you were given as a gift or inheritance, or obtained before the marriage, or is a part of a settlement from a personal injury case. 

Couples with valuable assets may have issues in the property division phase. In some cases, specialists are called to assess the property such as tax professionals or private investigators. However, in the end, the court will have the final decision on which asset goes where. Depending on your ex-partner’s financial ability, they could end up with some of your assets. 

Listed below are the factors Washington courts consider when dividing assets. 

  • The extent and nature of your community property;
  • The extent and nature of your separate property;
  • The length of the marriage or domestic partnership;
  • The economic status of both parties; and
  • If a spouse or domestic partner desires the right to live in the family home and is spending the majority of the time with shared children. 

Normally, only community property is distributed in a divorce and spouses retain their separate property.  But if the court believes it to be equitable, it can distribute one spouse’s separate party to the other spouse.  This result can be more likely in a long-term marriage, if one party’s separate assets are significantly greater than the available community property.


Hiding Assets in a High Net Worth Divorce

In some divorce proceedings, a spouse may try to mislead the courts on how they acquired property or conceal the property altogether. You and your spouse are required to disclose all financial information to each other. This includes: 

  • Real property;
  • Personal property;
  • Household furnishings;
  • Bank accounts;
  • Business interests;
  • Retirement accounts;
  • Investments; and
  • Any other form of property or income.

Spouses that hide property or alter financial records are breaching their fiduciary duty in a divorce. If your spouse is hiding assets from you, it’s important that you seek trusted legal representation. Your attorney may need to call upon financial experts, certified public accounts and private investigators to identify all your shared assets.

Listed below are some ways your spouse could hide shared property or income. 

  • Hidden bank or investment accounts;
  • Under-reporting income on tax returns;
  • Colluding with an employer to delay any raises, bonuses, or stock options until after the divorce proceedings;
  • Paying a fake debt to a friend and then collecting the money after the divorce proceedings;
  • Giving expensive gifts to a boyfriend or girlfriend;
  • Hiding stocks, mutual funds or other securities;
  • Intentionally overpaying taxes so they will taxes roll over;
  • Hiding expensive items such as antiques, artwork, or expensive hobby collections. 

How Do I Prove My Spouse Was Hiding Assets?

It can be challenging to prove that your spouse is hiding assets. However, it’s important to understand that you do have options. Hiring an experienced attorney can help you uncover any concealed assets to the court. The following are some tactics a skilled divorce attorney may use to reveal any hidden assets.

  • Obtaining Financial Information – An attorney can request the financial records of your spouse. However, it’s important that you collect as much financial information as possible before separation to ensure that no assets are hidden.
  • Spouse Depositions – Your attorney can request for a deposition of your spouse. Here, both of you will meet for a court-sanctioned questioning. Having an attorney on your side can help you navigate your deposition, ask the right questions and collect any significant information.
  • Interrogatories – An attorney can serve your spouse with interrogatories, which are written questions that must be answered within 30 days. Your spouse is required to answer these questions under oath.
  • Subpoena Experts – An order to appear in court is a subpoena. A divorce attorney can request experts to produce documents or testify for you. This can be extremely useful when uncovering hidden assets. For example, a certified public accountant may point out inconsistencies in tax records of a spouse who is under-reporting income.

Additional Resources

Washington Divorce Laws – Visit the official website for the Washington State Legislature to find more information on divorce statutes. Access the site to learn more about mandatory forms, how to file for divorce, and if you are required to pay for your spouse’s attorney fees. 

King County Family Court – Visit the official website for King County’s Family Court. Access the site to learn more about King County Family Court programs, how to confirm a hearing, the nearest family court location and relevant contact information.


Attorney for High Asset Divorce in King County, WA

If you or your spouse has a high net worth or expensive assets and are seeking a divorce, it’s important that you contact an attorney. You could potentially lose your assets, or your spouse could be hiding shared assets from you. No matter the circumstances, you must gain legal representation now.

Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson are skilled at representing clients in divorce proceedings. Our attorneys will do whatever it takes to protect your assets. We will file motions, collect relevant information and do what must be done to split your property equally. Contact us now at (206) 712-2756 to schedule a consultation

The attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson represent clients throughout the greater Seattle area including Burien, Kent, Bellevue, and Redmond.  


This article was last updated on December 18, 2018.

 

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