A high-asset divorce, or a high-net-worth divorce, generally involves significant and high-value assets such as business interests, stock options, trust funds, real estate partnerships, etc. Understandably, the more assets involved, the more complex the divorce will be. You can expect a high-net-worth divorce to take longer to resolve and cost more than an average divorce.
High Net Worth Divorce in Nevada
Dividing property acquired during a marriage can be one of the most contentious parts of a divorce case in Nevada, especially if the parties have acquired a substantial amount of high-value assets and have a high net worth. Often, high net worth individuals own and operate their own business(es) or are a shareholder in an existing business, own/hold multiple pieces of personal or commercial real estate, have large investment portfolios, large retirement accounts, or maintain a sizeable portfolio of leveraged debt. High net worth divorce can be different than the “run of the mill” divorce action because of the nuance and expertise necessary to protect and secure an individual’s wealth in divorce. Without a doubt, hiring the right divorce attorney who has the requisite knowledge and expertise is critical.
Active vs. Passive Assets
Under Chapter 123 of the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS), each spouse in Nevada is entitled to one-half (1/2) of the assets and/or debts acquired during the marriage. Typically, there are two types of assets in high net worth divorce cases: active and passive.
Active assets are those that require a party to spend their time, talent, skills, and expertise to maintain or grow the asset, often referred to as “living” assets. More specifically, active assets are typically seen as business(es) or active stock portfolios which earn wealth. These assets usually require the retention of a third-party professional expert with the appropriate credentials and/or certifications to perform forensic accounting and/or business valuation of the asset.
Passive assets are those the parties possess that do not require the promotion or maintenance of great effort to hold. Marital residences or rental properties, cars, boats, or bank accounts are usually considered passive assets. They are typically easier to divide because it is easier to determine the asset’s value, they can be liquidated relatively quickly, and the proceeds are distributed between the parties much easier.
Mediation Is Usually the Best Approach
Because cases handled by the courts become a matter of public record, high-net-worth couples who want to keep their divorce proceedings private should consider mediation. Mediation gives you allows the opportunity to resolve differences quicker and reach an equitable settlement without going to trial. Mediation is faster than the usual trial process and allows couples to reach important decisions themselves. This doesn't mean that mediation is any easier or less complicated. It takes planning and organization to achieve the best results, which is why you have strong legal representation throughout the process.
Differences in Agreements
Many high-net-worth individuals have the foresight to require their fiancé to sign a prenuptial agreement. People who enter into prenuptial agreements avoid much of the fighting and anger experienced during the divorce process because they decide before the marriage exactly what property each party would be entitled to in the event of a divorce.
Those high-net-worth individuals that ultimately marry without a prenuptial agreement can, and often do, enter into marital settlement agreements. Marital settlement agreements functionally divide the parties’ property by mutual agreement after the parties legally marry. Marital settlement agreements function similarly to prenuptial agreements but are signed after the parties are already married instead of before.
Nevada courts generally uphold these agreements during divorce proceedings unless a party proves and the court finds that the agreement was signed under duress or coercion, is unconscionable, or a party failed to provide full and fair disclosure of all respective assets and/or debt to their spouse the entry of the agreement.
Work With An Experienced Family Law Attorney
Because of the size, breadth, and value of a high-net-worth individual’s marital estate, high-net-worth divorces can, and often do, require more time and expertise than a regular divorce action. The attorneys at the Leavitt Family Law Group have extensive experience and will tirelessly work to protect your rights, wealth, and best interests. Call us today at 702-605-0065 to determine how we can assist you with your high-net-worth divorce case.