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High Net Worth Divorce

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29 December, 23
The solicitor who was appointed to me was outstanding
Very simple to engage with instant confirmation in writing straight after. Daniel, the solicitor who was appointed to me, was outstanding in his approach, his understanding of the technicalities of the law and, crucially, a genuine care for the client. Would definitely advise using Lawhive, you won't regret it.
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04 October, 23
We were so pleased to find the Lawhive website
After struggling to find a solicitor willing to give us advice, and for a reasonable cost, we were so pleased to find the Lawhive website. At first we wondered how well it would work, but needn't have worried at all - the whole process was simple, straightforward and professional and great value for money. We felt extremely lucky to be matched with our solicitor, Sonay Erten, as she was exactly what we were looking for - knowledgeable, patient and kind - a refreshing change from solicitors we have used in the past. She showed a great deal of empathy for our situation and explained things in language that was easy to understand (rather than the usual "solicitor" talk, which can be intimidating). She's a shining example of what a solicitor should aspire to be and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her to others or use her again in the future. We came out of our session reassured and confident of what we needed to do going forward, so a big "thank you!"
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I got the outcome I wanted regarding cease and desist to a competitor spreading defamatory statements about my business. Fast and professional, and at a much lower price than high street firms. Highly recommended thanks.
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23 July, 23
Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
I found the website very easy to use. Quick responses and I was even able to talk to someone who was friendly and competent. She rang me rather than emailed me. A solicitor was quickly found who could help me and once the relevant identification was approved he started work. Within two days the solicitor had checked documents and commented on them. Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
Pauline Piper,
15 February, 23
The service was fast and ultra professional
Sonay was really informative and understood my questions instantly, what I thought was complex Sonay simplified massively. She regularly checked in and the service was fast and ultra professional. Would highly recommend.
Jamie Crichton,
09 November, 23
Great service and very reasonably priced,
Great service and very reasonably priced, Kem was really helpful and professional. Would use again
Sarah Shanks,
21 November, 23
Great Interaction
Great interaction. I had a simple question which would have cost a fortune going to see a local solicitor. It was all very professional but still friendly. The solicitor I spoke to was the chief executive of her law firm (I looked her up on LinkedIn). You are dealing with very good lawyers who earn additional money through Lawhive. I would definitely use this service again. Highly recommend.
Mark,
29 December, 23
The solicitor who was appointed to me was outstanding
Very simple to engage with instant confirmation in writing straight after. Daniel, the solicitor who was appointed to me, was outstanding in his approach, his understanding of the technicalities of the law and, crucially, a genuine care for the client. Would definitely advise using Lawhive, you won't regret it.
Tahir Idris,
04 October, 23
We were so pleased to find the Lawhive website
After struggling to find a solicitor willing to give us advice, and for a reasonable cost, we were so pleased to find the Lawhive website. At first we wondered how well it would work, but needn't have worried at all - the whole process was simple, straightforward and professional and great value for money. We felt extremely lucky to be matched with our solicitor, Sonay Erten, as she was exactly what we were looking for - knowledgeable, patient and kind - a refreshing change from solicitors we have used in the past. She showed a great deal of empathy for our situation and explained things in language that was easy to understand (rather than the usual "solicitor" talk, which can be intimidating). She's a shining example of what a solicitor should aspire to be and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her to others or use her again in the future. We came out of our session reassured and confident of what we needed to do going forward, so a big "thank you!"
Julie Taylor,
01 June, 23
Fast and professional
I got the outcome I wanted regarding cease and desist to a competitor spreading defamatory statements about my business. Fast and professional, and at a much lower price than high street firms. Highly recommended thanks.
Jason Hunter,
23 July, 23
Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
I found the website very easy to use. Quick responses and I was even able to talk to someone who was friendly and competent. She rang me rather than emailed me. A solicitor was quickly found who could help me and once the relevant identification was approved he started work. Within two days the solicitor had checked documents and commented on them. Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
Pauline Piper,
15 February, 23
The service was fast and ultra professional
Sonay was really informative and understood my questions instantly, what I thought was complex Sonay simplified massively. She regularly checked in and the service was fast and ultra professional. Would highly recommend.
Jamie Crichton,
09 November, 23
Great service and very reasonably priced,
Great service and very reasonably priced, Kem was really helpful and professional. Would use again
Sarah Shanks,
21 November, 23
Rated 4.8 / 5. Showing our 4 & 5 star reviews.

About

A High Net Worth Divorce is a divorce where the assets of the couple are worth more than £250,000. Solicitors can ensure that the divorce is carried out in a way that is fair and protects the interests of both parties and any dependents.Next steps

How much does a High Net Worth Divorce cost?

The cost for a licensed solicitor to help with a High Net Worth Divorce is dependent on many factors including the complexity and specific requirements of the case. On average it is expected to range from £150-£200 but in some cases it could cost as much as £205.

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High New Worth Divorce Solicitors

A high net worth divorce happens when the money and property owned by a couple are more than what the court thinks they need to live comfortably.

Usually, their wealth is made up of businesses, trusts, inherited money, investments, property, and retirement funds.

Because of this, high net worth divorces are often very complicated.

high-net-worth-divorce

At Lawhive, our network of experienced high net worth divorce lawyers is on hand to provide expert advice and support before, during, and after divorce proceedings.

For more information, contact our legal assessment team today.

What is a high net divorce?

In a high net worth divorce, couples with a lot of money and valuable assets want to separate.

These assets could include property, businesses, valuable items, and savings.

To decide if a divorce is high net worth, courts look at the couple's finances, including their assets, income, and lifestyle.

Because of the complexity and value of these assets, high net worth divorces are often more complicated and harder to sort out than divorces with fewer assets involved.

How are assets categorised in a high net divorce?

Assets in high net worth divorce cases are usually categorised into matrimonial and non-matrimonial assets. 

  • Matrimonial assets are those acquired during the marriage, including property, savings, investments, and businesses. 

  • Non-matrimonial assets are those owned before the marriage or acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage.

Sorting assets into categories matters because marital assets are usually divided between spouses during divorce. However, non-marital assets might be treated differently, depending on factors like where they came from and how much they contributed to the marriage.

Courts look at different things, such as how long the marriage lasted, what each spouse contributed, and the financial needs of both parties and any children, to decide how to split up assets.

How are assets valued in a high net worth divorce?

In a high net worth divorce, assets are valued to determine their worth accurately. 

The common methods used include:

  • Market valuation: Many assets such as property, businesses, and valuable possessions are typically valued based on what similar assets would sell for in the current market.

  • Financial statements and documentation: Financial documents like bank statements, tax returns, and investment portfolios are assessed to determine the value of financial assets like savings, stocks, and bonds.

  • Expert appraisals: For complex assets such as businesses, art collections, or intellectual property, experts such as forensic accountants, appraisers, or valuers may be hired to provide professional assessments.

  • Income approach: Some assets, particularly businesses, are valued based on income-generating potential. This method involves assessing the future earnings or cash flows the asset is expected to generate.

  • Cost approach: Assets like property or tangible assets may be valued based on the cost required to replace or reproduce them.

  • Comparable sales: For unique or rare assets, such as collectibles or luxury items, comparable sales data from auctions or private sales may be used to determine their value.

  • Discounts and adjustments: In some cases, discounts or adjustments may be applied to account for factors such as lack of marketability, minority ownership interests, or future contingencies.

During divorce proceedings, both parties may present their own valuations of assets. You will have to complete a Form E if you or your spouse has made an application for a financial order, which in high net worth divorces is usual.

However, negotiations or court proceedings may be needed to reach agreement on the value of each asset. Accurate asset valuation ensures the fair division of property and assets between spouses, leading to a fair settlement

How are assets distributed in high net divorce settlements?

In high net worth divorce settlements, assets are distributed to achieve a fair outcome for both parties.

When dividing assets, the focus is on fairness rather than exact equality. This means assets might not be split 50-50, but in a way that considers each spouse's financial needs and contributions to the marriage.

Matrimonial assets are usually divided fairly between the spouses and non-matrimonial assets, assets owned before the marriage or received as gifts or inheritances, may be treated differently depending on their origin and contribution to the marriage.

Courts will always consider the financial needs and welfare of both spouses and dependent children when determining how assets should be distributed. They will consider housing needs, income requirements, and standard of living.

Contributions that each spouse made to the marriage, including both financial and non-financial, are looked into when dividing assets. The courts will assess each spouse’s earning capacity, homemaking duties, childcare responsibilities, and contributions to the accumulation of assets.

And they don’t always look backward. Courts consider the future financial outlook of both parties when making asset distribution decisions. This involves assessing each spouse's earning potential, age, health, and other relevant factors. They will consider pension income too if either of you is at retirement age. 

In many cases, spouses are encouraged to negotiate a settlement agreement regarding asset distribution outside of court, usually with the help of divorce solicitors.

This allows for greater flexibility and control over the outcome and can help avoid the time and expense of litigation, which can be costly. 

However, if spouses can't agree, they can challenge a divorce settlement by filing a financial order where the court intervenes and decides how the assets are shared.

At this point, the court will consider all the relevant factors and make a fair and equitable decision based on the circumstances of the case.

What role do pre-nup and post-nup agreements play in high net worth divorces?

Pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements are legal documents that couples can enter into before or during their marriage to determine how assets will be divided in the event of divorce or separation.

These agreements outline clearly each party's rights and responsibilities concerning property, finances, and other assets.

In high net worth divorce cases, these agreements can provide a clear framework for asset division, potentially saving time and legal costs associated with lengthy court battles. 

However, it's essential to ensure that these agreements are fair and legally enforceable, considering full financial disclosure, independent legal advice, and any changes in circumstances since the agreement was made.

While pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements are not automatically binding in UK courts, they are increasingly being given weight, especially if both parties agree freely, in full understanding of its implications, and without undue pressure. 

Courts will still review such agreements to ensure they are fair and meet the needs of both parties and any children involved.

What are the tax implications in high net worth divorces?

In high net worth divorce, there are tax implications to be mindful of. 

Let’s start with some rare good news when talking about the ‘T’ word - transfers of assets between spouses as part of a divorce settlement are typically exempt from Capital Gains Tax. However, if assets are transferred to a third party, such as by selling a property, CGT may apply. It's essential to consider the timing and structure of asset transfers to minimise CGT liabilities when getting a divorce. 

Transferring property between spouses as part of a divorce settlement is also usually exempt from Stamp Duty Land Tax. However, if additional consideration, such as cash or the assumption of debt, is involved, SDLT may apply. Proper planning can help minimise SDLT liabilities.

Also, gifts between spouses during marriage are typically exempt from inheritance tax. However, in divorce, assets transferred between ex-spouses may be subject to IHT if certain conditions are not met. It's essential to seek professional advice to ensure that asset transfers are structured in a tax-efficient manner.

Any income generated from assets, such as rental income from properties or dividends could be subject to income tax. However, properly structuring the division of income-producing assets can help minimise income tax liabilities for both parties.

If you are near retirement age, it is good to know that pensions are often significant assets in high net worth divorces. The transfer of pension benefits between spouses may have tax implications, such as potential charges or adjustments to the Lifetime Allowance. 

As well as this, any changes in marital status can affect your eligibility for certain tax credits, benefits, or allowances. It's essential to tell HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) of any changes in circumstances to avoid potential overpayments or underpayments of tax credits and benefits.

Given the complexity of tax laws and regulations, it's important for people going through a high net worth divorce to get professional advice from tax specialists, accountants, and financial advisors. These professionals can provide tailored guidance based on the specific circumstances of the divorce and help ensure that tax implications are properly addressed in the settlement agreement.

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How are business and investment assets handled in high net worth divorces?

Business and investment assets are categorised as matrimonial assets if they were acquired or developed during the marriage.

If one spouse owned a business or investments before the marriage, or got them through inheritance or as a gift during the marriage, they might be seen as separate from the marital assets.

The first step in handling business and investment assets is to determine their value accurately. This often involves working with professionals like forensic accountants, business valuators, or financial analysts to assess the worth of businesses, investment portfolios, and other assets.

Courts will consider the contributions of both spouses to the acquisition, growth, and management of business and investment assets when determining how they should be divided. This includes financial contributions, as well as non-financial contributions such as labour, expertise, and sacrifices made to support the other spouse's career or business endeavours.

Once the value of business and investment assets is established, there are several options for dividing them:

  1. Buyout: One spouse may buy out the other's interest in a business or investment portfolio, either through a lump sum payment or by exchanging other assets of equivalent value.

  2. Asset division: Business or investment assets may be divided between spouses, either through a direct transfer of ownership or through allocation of other assets to achieve a fair division.

  3. Continued co-ownership: In some cases, spouses may choose to continue co-owning business or investment assets post-divorce, especially if they have a shared interest in maintaining the value of the assets.

  4. Sale or liquidation: Business assets may be sold or investment portfolios liquidated, with the proceeds divided between the spouses.

The tax consequences of dividing business and investment assets need good thought. 

For example, transferring ownership of a business or investment portfolio may trigger Capital Gains Tax or other tax liabilities.

Professional advice from tax experts can help minimise these tax implications and optimise the division of assets.

If one spouse owns a business, steps can be taken to protect its interests during divorce proceedings. This could include implementing shareholder agreements, obtaining business valuations, or negotiating terms to ensure the continuity and viability of the business post-divorce.

How can I protect my privacy in a high net worth divorce?

Protecting your privacy in a high net worth divorce is important, especially considering the public nature of court proceedings and the potential for sensitive financial information to become public knowledge.

If you and your spouse could explore the possibility of resolving divorce-related matters through private negotiations or mediation, rather than court proceedings, this can help keep details of the divorce out of the public eye.

If you can’t do this, you could consider entering into confidentiality agreements with your spouse or their legal representatives to prevent the disclosure of sensitive information to third parties, including the media.

If there is a risk of media attention, you can seek court orders to restrict media access to proceedings or to prevent the publication of certain details about the divorce.

It may be possible to request that certain court records or proceedings be sealed to prevent public access. This typically requires a compelling reason, such as protecting sensitive financial information or ensuring the safety of individuals involved.

When filing court documents that contain financial information, consider redacting or omitting sensitive details to minimise the risk of public exposure.

Throughout the process, you should avoid making public statements or disclosures about the divorce or related matters, as these could compromise your privacy.

Although it may seem drastic, take steps to enhance the security of your personal and financial information, such as changing passwords, implementing two-factor authentication, and monitoring account activity.

Finally, be extra cautious when communicating electronically, as emails, text messages, and social media posts can be accessed and used as evidence during divorce proceedings. Exercise discretion and avoid sharing sensitive information through insecure channels.

How can I protect my inheritance in a high net worth divorce?

Protecting an inheritance during a high net worth divorce requires careful planning and strategic action. 

First, consider entering into a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement with your spouse that clearly outlines the status of your inheritance and specifies how it should be treated in the event of divorce.

These agreements can help establish your intentions regarding the inheritance and provide legal protection in case of divorce.

To maintain the separate nature of your inheritance, avoid mingling it with marital assets.

Keep inherited funds or property in accounts or titles solely in your name and don’t use them for joint expenses or investments unless explicitly agreed upon.

You should also keep inherited funds in a separate bank account or investment accounts solely in your name.

Avoid depositing marital income or assets into these accounts, as it may complicate the characterisation of the inheritance in the event of divorce.

Make sure you keep detailed records and documents proving the inheritance's origin, such as inheritance documents, wills, trusts, or gift deeds. This evidence can help establish that the inheritance is separate property and not subject to division in divorce proceedings.

If you need to use inherited funds for joint expenses or investments, consider entering into a transmutation agreement with your spouse to clarify that the inheritance retains its separate status despite being used for marital purposes.

During divorce proceedings, be transparent about the existence and nature of your inheritance. Disclose all relevant financial information to avoid accusations that you are hiding money

How are international assets dealt with in high net worth divorces?

The first step is to identify all international assets owned by both spouses. These assets may include property, bank accounts, investments, businesses, trusts, and other property outside of the jurisdiction where the divorce is filed.

At this point, couples may choose the jurisdiction where they wish to file for divorce. If so, you should carefully consider the laws and regulations of different jurisdictions, as well as any potential advantages or disadvantages in terms of asset division, tax treatment, and enforcement of court orders.

If a divorce decree or financial settlement is obtained in one country, enforcing it in another jurisdiction can be challenging.

However, many countries have reciprocal agreements or conventions to facilitate recognition and enforcement of foreign court orders.

Valuing international assets accurately is critical for equitable asset division. This may require the involvement of experts familiar with local market conditions and regulations in the countries where the assets are located.

Ex-spouses might attempt to conceal or transfer international assets to avoid division in divorce proceedings. Techniques such as forensic accounting and asset tracing can be employed to uncover any hidden assets and ensure a fair division.

International asset division in high net worth divorces is complicated, so we highly recommend you seek legal representation from experienced family law attorneys with expertise in handling cross-border divorces.

What factors influence custody and child support arrangements in a high net worth divorce?

Like any divorce, the primary consideration in custody and child support determinations is the best interests of the child.

Courts will prioritise factors such as the child's emotional and physical well-being, stability, and continuity of care when making custody decisions.

They will look at the ability and willingness of each parent to provide for the child's needs, including emotional support, supervision, and involvement in their education and extracurricular activities. These are significant factors in custody determinations and should not be overlooked.

They will also consider the nature and quality of the relationship between each parent and the child when determining custody arrangements. The parent-child bond and the child's preferences, depending on their age and maturity, may also be taken into account.

In high net worth divorces, the financial resources of each parent may well influence child arrangements and child maintenance. While financial wealth alone does not determine custody, it can impact the ability to provide for the child's needs and maintain a certain standard of living.

If a child has special medical, educational, or emotional needs, these factors may influence arrangements and the determination of child support to ensure that those needs are adequately met.

And what about co-parenting? Well, the willingness and ability of both parents to cooperate and communicate effectively in co-parenting the child are essential considerations and courts may favour arrangements that promote a positive co-parenting relationship and minimise conflict for the child's sake.

Do I need a solicitor for a high net worth divorce?

While it's not a legal requirement to hire a solicitor for a high net worth divorce, we do advise you to seek professional legal representation, given the complex financial and legal issues involved. 

Without legal support from a solicitor, and other experts in high net worth divorces, you may not come away with a fair and equitable portion of what you deserve which could have current and future implications. 

A solicitor is trained to help you protect your financial interests and assets during a high net worth divorce, and they will be able to give you sound advice on how to safeguard those assets that are most precious to you. 

How can Lawhive help in a high net worth divorce?

Here at Lawhive, our solicitors specialise in family law and have in-depth knowledge of high net worth divorce proceedings. They can provide you with the expert guidance and advice you need, tailored to your specific circumstances.

Get in touch today for a free case assessment. 

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