Special Considerations in High Asset Divorces

Consider a Private Judge

The public courts are overburdened, underfunded, and inefficient. As a result, it often saves money and a great deal of time on complex cases to pay a private judge to handle the case. It also allows for greater confidentiality, flexibility in managing your personal calendar, and provides for hearings in a more pleasant environment.


Disclosure of all finances and often business opportunities is mandatory in family law proceedings. Dissemination of this information to the public must be minimized.

Tax Planning

There are often a multitude of options for dividing a community property estate. Concrete planning and foresight can minimize tax consequences.

Wealth & Retirement Planning

The division of an asset may result in a lost investment opportunity, penalties, or have certain tax consequence. There are different ways to divide an individual asset, or in the alternative, to exchange one asset for another, to maximize parties’ wealth and retirement strategies.


High asset divorces significant assets are often accumulated prior to marriage, or gifted or bequeathed to one party alone, making those assets separate property. However, during the marriage these assets are frequently commingled with other community property assets. For example, a party having a mutual investment fund prior to marriage to which funds earned during the marriage were added.

In addition, the form in which the assets are held may be changed (e.g., a party may invest monies from his separate property savings into a family home or business). Lastly, the title in which the asset is held may change from one party’s name to both parties or to the other party’s name. In each of these scenarios the original separate property funds must be carefully traced if the party wishes to claim them as his/her separate property.

Premarital and Postmarital Agreements

Premarital and postmarital agreements are often altered whether particular assets are found to be a party’s separate property or to be joint community property. The agreement itself may also be unenforceable.

If you are seeking a knowledgeable and skilled lawyer to handle your high asset divorce issues, we are ready to help. Call today (949) 398-8720.

Valuation of Assets

Each type of asset may create different challenges and issues for valuation. For example:

Businesses: Businesses are generally valued much differently in a divorce than in the market place. A business that has no value in the marketplace and is incapable of being sold may be found by a family law judge to have a very high value. In addition, a business that was started before marriage, or had a significant change in value following separation, present additional complex legal issues.

Real & Commercial Property: Both require appraisers that practice in those fields. Appraisals of the value of such property going back in time to specific dates, such as when the property changed title from separate to community property, may be needed.

Antiques, Collectibles, Exotic Cars, Paintings, Boats, Intellectual Property: Each requires various experts to value them.

Tax Deferred Accounts: Liquidation of such accounts typically results in immediate taxes and penalties thus present value might be considerably less than the book value.

Restricted Stock Units & Stock Options (RSU): These typically present complex valuation and characterization as separate or community property issues. For instance, a stock that is granted before marriage, but vested during marriage, typically is both party separate property and part community property.