While no two divorces are alike, high net worth divorces often have complex financial issues that require specific expertise. Think about it, if you had a parent who thought they had cataracts, you would not suggest they go see their internist. A neighborhood ophthalmologist that treats all sorts of eye diseases would be better. However, a doctor that specializes in geriatric eye diseases and has treated thousands of patients for cataracts, would be the best choice. They would know the diagnosis quickly, be able to explain the process, the risks and the recovery and how best to treat if something goes wrong.
Divorcing your spouse in a high asset case is like removing the cataract. Well, not exactly.
But you do need an attorney that understands how businesses are valued, restricted stock units and other equity awards are divided and taxes are impacted by the division of certain assets.
Yes, an attorney can hire a forensic accountant or value expert to assist. However, if the attorney cannot spot the issues, ask the right questions and analyze the information in light most favorable to you, it is like taking a knife to a gunfight.
More and more, the high net worth divorces I see involve a prenuptial agreement. Again, this is where expertise comes in. Attorneys that only handle “house and pension cases” may be at a disadvantage when it comes to evaluating the enforceability and interpretation of the document. And, if the parties decide they want to attempt reconciliation, a postnuptial agreement may need to be drafted.
What if you do not think your case is high net worth enough to hire a specialist? The beauty of hiring an attorney that has experience in high net worth divorces is that they will understand your case and be able to handle your issues efficiently and with confidence. I know, personally, that I bring value to smaller cases because I can make sure my clients have arguments crafted and documents drafted with the same skills I use in my larger net worth cases. Everyone deserves the same high quality of work. As an added bonus, attorneys like myself have associate attorneys that bill out at lower rates to assist us under our supervision. That is how I started 20 years ago.
Whether or not you have a high net worth case, it is important that you know your rights.