After watching shows like The Kardashians or The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, it's no wonder that the general public believes that the more property or money you have, the more contentious and expensive a divorce will be. However, not every high asset divorce has to be that way. In fact, by following some of these tips, it's possible to have a fairly smooth divorce even when there's a lot of money or property involved.
What is a "high asset" divorce?
Typically, a "high asset" divorce is defined as any case in which the parties own over one million dollars in assets, whether in real estate, personal property, or cash. South Carolina is an "equitable distribution" state and thus any asset which is determined to be a marital asset must be divided between the parties before a divorce can be finalized by the Family Court. Logically speaking, one might think the more there is to divide, the more complicated the case can be, but that's not always the case.
1. Resolve the Terms of the Separation or Divorce Outside of the Courtroom
High asset divorces are more likely to become contentious brawls the moment all of the private details of a marriage (or the break down of the marriage) enter the public record of the Family Court. Therefore, when you're looking to hire a divorce attorney, ask about his or her experience with handling such private details through out-of-court methods like pre-litigation mediation or early neutral evaluation.
If your spouse has also hired an attorney experienced with these methods, the odds are more likely that your two attorneys can help guide you through the decision-making process about how your divorce, property division and even the custody of your children can all be handled without ever having to file contested litigation. Besides the benefit of avoiding a judge issuing a decision about your life you may not like, you will likely be able to protect yourself and your family from having personal information and sometimes embarrassing details of what led to the divorce from becoming fodder for gossip around town.
2. Work with a Private Support Team of Your Choosing
Once the Family Court becomes involved with a case, the judge may order certain court-appointed professionals to work with your family. These professionals may be financial in nature, such as CPAs or forensic accountants. Or they may focus on the psychological aspects of your case such as family therapists or forensic evaluators for a child custody matter. Either way, depending on the facts of your case, you and your attorney may have very little input into which professionals are assigned to your case.
However, if you choose to work with your attorney to settle the aspects of your case outside of court, you and your spouse, along with your attorneys, have a chance to choose your support team. This team can include therapists, CPAs, real estate appraisers, or even divorce coaches, for example, to help with the various aspects of your case, whether financial or emotional, thus keeping costs down and helping ensure private matters remain private.
3. Understand How to Work with Your Attorney's Office
If your goal is to keep your high asset divorce as uncontested as possible, find out how best to work with your attorney and his or her staff early on. For example, what is the best way to supply necessary documents to their office quickly and efficiently? If they have to spend too much time tracking down documents to provide to the other side, it could seem like they are hiding something, which will cause your spouse's attorney to seek the Court's intervention much sooner than you may like.
Also, find out if there is an Associate or Paralegal assigned to your case who can speak with you when your attorney is not available. This will help speed up the flow of communication between you and your legal team. As an added bonus this will help keep your legal bills down since they typically will have a lower billable hour than your lead attorney.
Lastly, when you receive communications from your legal team with deadlines, work closely with them to make sure those deadlines are met. Resolving high asset divorces outside of court involves a lot of trust on each side of the equation. Meeting deadlines and keeping promises is essential to the process and your ability to help your legal team meet those goals will go a long way to making sure your case gets resolved as privately and as cost-effectively as possible.
The Stevens Firm, P.A. - Family Law Center has provided exceptional legal counsel and support to families throughout South Carolina for over two decades, handling all matters of family law, such as child custody, child support, and divorce. We are well-equipped to handle all divorce and family law matters, no matter your circumstances. Contact us to schedule an initial consultation.