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High Net Worth Divorce And Complex Issues In An Orange County Divorce

Hire The Firm That Lawyers Hire

Most Orange County divorce lawyers purport to handle “high net worth “and “complex” divorces. Rarely do many of these lawyers actually handle these vaguely defined divorces, and when they do, there is a question of the quality of representation.  In truth, many divorces involve at least a few unique or rare issues. Complex issues aren’t limited to the top 1% or the wealthy. Financial issues like contributions to an IRA both before and after the date of the marriage, the use of one spouse’s assets acquired before the date of marriage to buy a joint tenancy home or the commingling of an inheritance or personal injury settlement with community property are not unusual and impact many divorces. In a divorce, you want to protect your separate property money and not let it be used to fund needless litigation or be awarded to your spouse. You need a law firm that has the experience to understand the complexities of your case and the desire to facilitate an efficient resolution.

Business owners, professionals, executives, stockbrokers/wealthy advisors and entrepreneurs face unique issues during a divorce that require a skilled divorce lawyer with specific experience in handling complex and high net worth divorces. If you find yourself in this situation, seek counsel with an Orange County divorce attorney who has the experience and bandwidth to resolve your case. This type of divorce is more akin to a financial transaction than what is thought of as a divorce.  Divorcing parties with significant assets are, essentially, dividing the assets of a partnership. Dividing significant assets with complexities is far different than selling a house and dividing the sales proceeds and dividing an IRA.

With 17 divorce lawyers, our firm’s practice is limited to cases filed in Orange County. Minyard Morris has been in business in Orange County for over 46 years and its lawyers have combined experience of over 280 years.   We provide our clients, in a high net worth divorce or in a more traditional divorce, with a comprehensive approach in a collaborative culture.   We combine our unparalleled level of experience and knowledge in representing our clients. Our focus, together with our team approach, allows each of our Orange County divorce attorneys to bring an effective, creative and cost-effective approach to resolving complex issues for high-level professionals, executives, stockbrokers/wealth advisors, business owners and entrepreneurs.

High net worth divorces add a number of unique complexities to a family matter that do not exist in the more traditional divorce. Lawyers with different skills, experiences and training are needed for different types of cases.  You would not hire a personal injury lawyer to handle a corporate transaction or vice versa. This exact issue exists in family law.   A lawyer who is fully competent to handle a child support or child custody case may not be competent to handle the issues that exist in a high net worth divorce.  The issues that exist in a high net worth divorce dictate retaining a divorce lawyer who is experienced with the unique complex issues.  You don’t want to pay to educate a lawyer in a new field and you don’t want your lawyer to “practice” on your case. Running the risk that a lawyer will be able to handle a case unlike the cases he or she has handled in the past is a rather serious gamble. Having a lawyer is not the same as having the “right” lawyer. All lawyers are not created equal.  Don’t make the mistake of believing that so long as you have ‘a’ lawyer your rights will be protected.

The following is a list of the type of issues that may exist in a high net worth divorce:

  • Valuation of a business interests
  • Reasonable compensation
  • Allocation of the increase in value of a separate property business during the marriage between community and separate property
  • Personal goodwill
  • Entity goodwill
  • Structured annuities
  • Family limited partnerships
  • Pre-nuptial agreements
  • Post-nuptial agreements
  • Buy sell agreements and spousal consents
  • Misappropriation
  • Breach of fiduciary duties
  • Carried interest
  • Valuation and allocation of complex alternative investments
  • Future capital calls
  • Tracing of inherited funds
  • Complex reimbursements of separate property invested into community property
  • Valuation of intellectual property
  • Analysis of executive or deferred compensation
  • Characterization and allocation of stock options, RSUs, profits interests or related benefits
  • Non-qualified executive compensation
  • Complex tax issues
  • Tax losses
  • Tax basis related issues
  • Phantom income
  • Revocable family trusts
  • Irrevocable trusts
  • Irrevocable life insurance trusts
  • Donor advised funds
  • Qualified primary residential trusts
  • Charitable remainder trusts
  • Asset protection trusts
  • Community property agreements
  • Transmutation issues re: separate vs. Community property
  • Commingling of separate and community property
  • Tracing of separate property
  • Premium financed life insurance
  • Coverage issues
  • Determination of controllable cashflow
  • Imputation of income on assets
  • Imputation of income on underemployed or unemployed spouse
  • High earner exception relative to guideline child support
  • Appraisal and valuation of yachts and aircraft
  • Appraisal of fine art and antiques

Entrepreneurs, business owners, professionals, executives and stockbrokers/wealthy advisors not only need a skilled divorce lawyer, they also need the advice of other independent experts, such as forensic accountants, real estate appraisers, estate planning experts, tax professionals and potentially many others. With experience representing clients in high net worth divorces, our team of 17 divorce lawyers knows which experts to retain.