High-net-worth divorce is expensive.
A quick skim of celebrity divorces serves as a cautionary tale for all, but particularly for wealthy individuals who enjoy the lifestyle of the rich, and sometimes famous. One of the world’s most expensive divorces was between Bernie Ecclestone, the CEO of Formula One Group, and Slavica Ecclestone in 2009. That parting of the ways was settled amicably, but she still walked away with a cool $1–1.5 billion settlement. Of course, these things go both ways and when Madonna and Guy Ritchie called it quits, Ritchie received an estimated $76–$92 million.
Wealthy individuals most always have substantial assets, successful businesses, and a list of personal expenses that require a large amount of financial funding. Sometimes, a person with a lot of assets has created a grand lifestyle for a less-wealthy spouse, and the courts expect this lifestyle to be similarly maintained after the marriage is over.
Senior partner and high-net family law lawyer, Jock Craddock, recommends you become familiar with these Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts of high-net-worth divorce.
DO hire a lawyer who specializes in high-net-worth divorce. You should research the lawyers that you are considering, and make sure that the one you choose is the right fit for you, both professionally and personality-wise . You don’t want to get a pitbull when you are more comfortable with a poodle.
DON’T ignore your lawyer’s advice. The lawyer/client relationship is one of absolute trust. Once you have chosen a lawyer that specializes in a wealthy clientele, stick to his or her recommendations but don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are concerned about something he or she advises.
DO hire a financial advisor. Divorce most always goes hand-in-hand with financial hardship, even for wealthy individuals. A financial advisor will help you to prepare your finances for the divorce process. He or she will assist you in asset distribution and explain to you how each choice you make will affect your tax payments.
DON’T make poor choices . Publicly criticizing your spouse on social media, complaining of your spouse’s parenting of the children, or attempting to hide assets are all examples of choices that will reflect poorly upon you in a court of law.
DO protect your assets. From the advice of your lawyer and financial advisor, you can protect certain assets from being possibly sold or hidden by your spouse during the divorce process. Your spouse may not be entitled to certain assets if they were obtained by you prior to the marriage or were given as a gift only to you.
DON’T leave the matrimonial home when you separate from your spouse. This could impair your chances of custody of the children and the court may grant exclusive occupancy of the home to your spouse. Consider having the home immediately put up for sale or insisting your spouse must buy you out of your share of the home.
DO collect and retain all financial records. Be cognizant of your marital expenses and how and where the money is being spent by both you and your spouse.
DON’T refuse mediation. More often than not, family law matters get resolved prior to trial. Mediation is a cost effective and faster choice in resolving a family law matter. Don’t make it your goal to “win” your case against your ex, but rather strive for a happy and thriving post-separation life.
DO let the professionals handle it. A big concern lawyers have in a divorce is protecting his or her client’s business and pension. Hiring professional valuators reduces your risk of exposing your business and pension to being unfairly assessed and divided in a divorce settlement. Good experts are vital to a fair settlement.
DON’T forget, we’re a team! Lawyers view their clients as team members in family law matters. Clients hold the key to their cases by having all relevant information that the lawyer needs to achieve a successful outcome. Without the client’s participation and cooperation, a lawyer’s ability to achieve positive results, inside or outside a courtroom, is greatly reduced. Remember, the divorce may not be your choice, but the outcome can be yours to determine.
Call us toll-free at 1-800-661-4959 or at (250) 979-2555 to book your consultation with Jock.
By Romney Austin
Paralegal to Jock Craddock