Experienced Property Division Lawyers
While any divorce is stressful, divorces involving significant assets add unique legal challenges and complexity, which requires family law attorneys like the ones at Patricia L. Brown & Associates. What does “high asset” mean today? It could mean less than one might think and may include any of the following:
- Six figure-plus income by either party
- Six figure-plus assets, including the home, 401(k) and IRA accounts, stocks, bonds, cash, precious metals, the homestead, land and property, art and any collectibles, cars, etc.
- Wholly or partially owned businesses, including home businesses and professional practices
- Net of debts
The point is more people are in the “high-asset” class than may be widely believed. According to a report from Spectrem Group, a Chicago-based research firm, some 9 million U.S. households have a net worth of at least $1 million. Record stock market values and skyrocketing property values are increasing individuals’ net worth. As large businesses contracted and eliminated jobs, people are starting new businesses at record numbers. The entrepreneurial spirit in Central Texas is fueling many new businesses.
It is important for couples involved in a high-asset divorce to be aware of how Texas’ community property statutes are enforced. While some states with community property divide all property equally, 50-50, by statute, this is not the case with Texas. In Texas, community property is divided in a “just and right” manner, equitably and fairly, as determined by the court or as agreed to by the parties themselves. Judges have the right to divide property in a disproportionate manner if they feel it is appropriate under the circumstances of a particular case. The court may also deviate from standard child support and spousal support guidelines.
Knowledgeable And Experienced Property Division Attorney
What are some of the unique challenges found in high-asset divorces?
- Disputes in separate property vs. community property: this is crucial as property deemed separate property is not divisible by Texas law, while community property may be divided disproportionately
- Valuation and division of business
- Division of investment and retirement accounts
- Alimony and child support issues
- Concealment of marital assets
- Tax consequences of property division
Therefore, it is critical to your outcome that you consult with an experienced attorney like Patricia L. Brown, who has the necessary experience with, and understanding of, Williamson County and Travis County courts and judges. The firm also has a network of skilled and experienced resources in business valuation, property valuation, financial accounting, tax experts, financial forensics (to locate any “hidden” assets) and investment analysts. This network is very important to high-asset divorces because they involve one or more of the following:
- Property ownership: High-asset divorces may involve ownership of multiple properties beyond the homestead, such as vacation homes, ranches, farms and/or investment on rental properties. These properties must be accurately valued, and decisions need to be made regarding their disposition. You will have our experience and our network of experts working on your behalf to insure a favorable outcome.
- Investment and retirement plans: The existence of even one or multiple investment and retirement accounts adds more complexity to high-asset divorces. Tax advantaged plans such as IRA, 401(k), 403(b), SEP, ESOP, company pension plans, etc., must be professionally evaluated, present value established, and the stream of future cash flows from each investment calculated, valued and weighed, including the tax implications for our client.
- Division of debts: It is not unusual for high-asset divorcing couples to have significant debt, not only the mortgage on their residence, but also other properties, and debt incurred to leverage other investment opportunities. How this debt is divided and how the taxes are handled can have a profound impact on a future favorable outcome for our client.
- Child support and spousal support (alimony): While child and spousal support/alimony can be contentious issues in any divorce, they can be particularly challenging in high-asset divorce cases. Improperly handled, spouses who have had a satisfying lifestyle have ended up with something very unsatisfying.