A high net worth divorce is often different from other divorces due to the diversity and complexity of properties owned and the debts that are incurred.
In a high net worth divorce, you are more likely to encounter complex property issues such as corporate and business-related matters, complicated compensation packages, trust issues, and tax-related issues. You also may see pre-marital and post-marital agreement issues that address the characterization of property.
Some high net worth divorces involve gifts, inheritances, or property that was owned prior to the marriage. Separate property is not divisible in a divorce—in other words, the court cannot award one party’s separate property to the other party. Sometimes, these more complex divorce cases have mixed separate and community property issues because, for example, one spouse may have come into the marriage with significantly more assets than the other spouse. If those separate property assets are used, in part, to purchase a piece of property that the two parties also use community property to purchase, you can have a “mixed character” asset.
The bottom line is that there are simply more assets and asset-related issues to work through in a high net worth divorce.
As a result, a high net worth divorce is more complex. This means that the lawyer you hire is critically important.
Having an experienced attorney is a must. Experienced lawyers have seen more cases and more issues. You also want your attorney to be familiar with the judges’ tendencies. How does the judge typically rule on child and spousal support issues? Where does the judge typically fall on financial issues? What does the judge typically do with the child-related issues in high net worth divorces?
When it comes to child support, for example, the Court is going to focus on the children’s needs. The primary conservator might not be limited to just the “guidelines” child support amount. Many factors must be considered when a child has significant monthly expenses, including private school, tutors, expensive extracurricular activities, just to name a few.
How do you handle a high net worth divorce differently from other law firms?
Our primary goal at Lewis & Passons is to get our client to the other side of a divorce as financially and emotionally whole as he or she can be. More complex divorces require a higher degree of attorney-client cooperation and interaction. The client makes make the big strategic decisions. The attorney will then tailor the tactics and advice to achieve as many of the client’s goals as possible. Those goals tend to be farther reaching in higher net worth divorces because there are different lifestyle issues to address. We strive to stay true to our reputation as problem solvers instead of expensive litigation creators.
That means you don’t have to respond to every single letter that the other side writes. They may be trying to create expensive litigation by fighting about every little thing. We want to stay focused on the end goal of an amicable divorce that achieves the goals of our client as much as possible. We try to be proactive, not reactive.
What makes Lewis & Passons qualified to handle that kind of high net worth divorce?
We have over 55 years of total experience in practicing law in Texas. Andrew Passons has been board certified in family law since 2010. Mark has been board certified in family law since 1997. With over 30 years of combined experience as State Bar of Texas board certified family lawyers, Andrew and Mark have seen and handled almost every type of case and every type of issue. Being board certified does make a difference—to become board certified, lawyers are required to demonstrate a special expertise and experience in family law. We work hard to keep up with research, new developments, and technological advances that impact divorce, especially higher net worth estates.
We also know what we don’t know. We are not valuation experts, we don’t give tax advice, and we are not CPAs. To that end, we have a network of experts, business evaluation specialists, tax specialists, and divorce financial analysts at our disposal to help navigate the complexities of large estates. We sometimes encourage clients to work with experts directly, which streamlines the process and saves the client money. Efficiency is crucial in these cases. Every part of the team, including the client, the attorney, the paralegals, and the experts must know and execute his/her role.
What do I do now?
If you think you have a high net worth divorce, please call and schedule a consult to discuss your case with Andrew or Mark. Our staff is ready to help you start this journey. You don’t have to do it alone. If you hire Lewis & Passons, P.C., they stand ready to help you through this difficult time.