Divorce is complicated. While the process should be the same for anyone going through it, that is not necessarily the case. Depending on your circumstances, your case could be quite different than a neighbor going through a divorce at the same time. It is true that certain things need to happen to resolve all dissolution of marriage cases, such as the division of marital assets and debts. However, that division can be as simple as splitting up a few bank accounts or could be a detailed process that takes many months. A St. Louis high net worth divorce attorney can work with you to develop a strategy for your case, but before doing so you should educate yourself on the process.
How is Divorce Different if I Make a Good Living?
If you earn a high salary or have substantial assets, your journey through the family court system is likely to be a bit more complicated. This applies to all facets of your divorce or legal separation case, including property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support.
That being said, it is usually true that the best thing a high-net-worth individual can do during a divorce case is to get through the process as quickly and simply as possible. When you file for divorce, you should have a plan to try and accomplish this.
Does Income Affect Spousal Support?
Yes, income is a crucial factor in considering spousal support for both the paying party and the recipient party. A high-earning individual is more likely to be ordered to pay alimony. On the opposite side, the spouse of a high-income person is likely to receive alimony, particularly if they do not work or earn a lesser income.
Spousal support cases with high-earning parties tend to be some of the most contested cases before family court Judges. These cases can involve substantial amounts of discovery and liberal use of experts. The reason these cases can be so contested is that a maintenance order can have long-lasting consequences. A court order to pay $10,000.00 per month in alimony for the next 20 years will be costly, no matter how much you make.
Will my Salary Affect my Child Support as Well?
Income does play a key role in the calculation of child support as well. In Missouri, the child support calculation chart, known as Form 14, uses each parent’s annual gross income amounts to determine the appropriate support amount.
While the child support chart can be capped a bit over a certain income level, the child support amounts can be quite hefty in a case involving a parent with a large income.
How Does Property Division Work for High Earners?
Property division is a complex process if you have substantial assets. Financial accounts can require tracing and lengthy record review. Real estate may need appraisals and potentially refinancing. Large pension plans will need careful consideration regarding the division orders, known as qualified domestic relations orders.
Other complex cases may also include work to find hidden assets or the use of private investigators to prove misconduct. Adultery or financial misconduct can change the proportion of assets a family law Judge awards.
Marital property division in a high-asset divorce is based on a thorough understanding of the case law, so it would suit you well to hire a St. Louis high-asset divorce attorney who understands Missouri law and regularly manages similar cases.
Can My Income Affect How Much Custody I Receive?
You are not rewarded or penalized for earning good money when it comes to the custody of your children. However, work schedules can be factored into a custody determination so if you travel a lot for work or spend little time at home, your employment could play a role.
Having some money can also aid in a custody battle. You can potentially afford resources and experts that others cannot, as well as pay for a competent law firm to handle your divorce proceeding. This could aid you in seeking custody but can also make the case have higher conflict. Expensive arguments like challenging residency requirements can be more common in high-income cases.
How Do I Protect Myself?
If you make a great living, there are really two routes to take with your divorce case. One, you can do everything in your power to keep the case low-conflict and move through the process amicably and quickly. Two, you can use your resources to give yourself a robust defense. The resources can be used for financial experts, custody experts, an experienced attorney, a seasoned Guardian ad Litem, etc.
An experienced St. Louis high net-worth divorce lawyer can walk you through the assorted options and help you make decisions like these.
What Specific Resources Can Help My Case?
Depending on the area of concern in your case, there are numerous resources that may help you obtain a better outcome.
If you are defending spousal support, you may consider hiring a vocational examiner or conducting substantial discovery to challenge your spouse’s necessary expenses.
If you are fighting over custody, then some parties choose to hire a psychological expert to conduct an evaluation of the other parent or the entire family. You may also need counseling or rehabilitation services depending on the facts.
If there are issues with the division of property, then you might hire a tax expert to analyze how the division of property will be tax affected. Conversely, if your spouse makes a large salary, you might hire an expert to look at his or her finances. If you suspect hidden assets, then there are experts to trace funds in your financial records.
If your spouse or both of you own a business, then we may go down the road of a business valuation, which can be very costly.
When choosing a lawyer, make sure the professional practices in a way that he or she uses these resources on a regular basis.
Should I Hire Counsel?
While it is fair to say that a low-income case can be handled without counsel, that is rarely true in a high-income case. Competent counsel can save you substantial assets and support if they properly handle your case. It can only benefit you to work hard on the front end to find a lawyer who is a good fit for you and your circumstances. Contact us today to speak with a knowledgeable St. Louis high net worth divorce attorney.