First, as Cuba Gooding, Jr. said in Jerry Maguire, “Show Me the Money!” Your attorney will need to know all of your finances in order to capably represent your interests. In high asset divorces, both parties tend to have a multitude of assets, and one spouse does not always know what the other spouse has or where it may be kept. So, the worst mistake a spouse in such a situation could make would be to believe that whatever the other spouse discloses constitutes all of his or her assets.
What should a spouse do to “Find the Money”? Begin by listing all accounts – bank accounts, retirement accounts, investment funds – and assets – real estate, jewelry, automobiles – you know, and match that to assets disclosed by the other spouse. Do you see any omissions? Do you see extras you did not know existed? Next, strongly consider hiring a forensic accountant to begin hunting down secreted assets. Forensic accountants have training in tracking down paper trails that lead from your spouse to an offshore account, a shell corporation and other common and less common ways to hide funds. Generally, the wealthier the spouse, the greater the temptation (and ability) to secret assets.
Second, hire the best and most experienced legal and financial experts for your representation. High asset divorce involves knowledge of areas of the law – tax law, securities law, corporate law – that not all family law attorneys possess. It also requires a great deal of experience and sophistication with how wealthy individuals structure their holdings. And it is highly likely that an experienced attorney in these types of divorces will already have reliable financial experts to assist.
Finally, reduce everything to writing. In the end, you will have a highly complex division of property and debt, and you will need a detailed and clearly written settlement agreement to assure that your interests have been thoroughly protected.
If you have other questions about high asset divorce, contact us – we can help.