Protecting your assets when facing a divorce or separation
Dealing with a divorce or separation can be a very difficult time in life. If you, or your partner, have significant wealth, the process of divorce can become more complex than usual, when managing multiple properties, investment assets, other financial structures or trust interests that need to be dealt with. If you have children, this can add to the complications with maintenance agreements and other expenses, such as education costs, to be decided. As with all parents you will also need to sort out the care arrangements for your children.
Thinking clearly and making the right decisions at such a time can be difficult when emotions run high, but we are here to support you at each stage and make the entire process more manageable. We have experience in dealing with the aspects arising from relationship breakdowns in the high net worth and our support and guidance is tailored to your specific needs.
Albeit the legal process for a divorce will mirror that for all couples, there are likely to be additional factors or challenges if there is substantial wealth that require specialist input. Our team of experienced solicitors are familiar with the complexities involved with divorce and separation of those with significant resources and sophisticated financial structures and we will support and guide you to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family.
What is high-net-worth divorce?
High-net-worth divorce refers to a divorce where one or both spouses have a high net worth, typically over £1 million. Such divorces can be complex due to the variety of assets involved, including businesses, investments, and high-value property. As a result, a specialist legal team with experience in high-net-worth divorce may be required to ensure that the division of assets is fair and that the rights of each spouse are protected.
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Watch: Key advice for anyone looking to deal with a divorce
Why choose Moore Barlow?
Some of the financial issues that we frequently assist with in these types of cases include:
- Advising on where and when to issue your application for divorce considering the impact upon the financial outcome
- The sale/transfer of high value properties
- The transfer or sharing of large pensions and issues around the Life Time Allowance for each party
- Sophisticated investments
- Assets held in trusts structures and offshore trusts
- Business assets
It is important to seek expert legal advice as soon as you are considering on divorce or receive notice of proceedings from your spouse. You may need to act quickly if there are other jurisdictions involved to secure the most favourable jurisdiction for you.
You may also need to act quickly if the financial arrangements are more complex and less transparent, and you fear your partner may seek to transfer property or dispose of assets to third parties in other jurisdictions to try and prevent you benefitting from them in any financial settlement.
Moore Barlow LLP’s team can handle the full spectrum of family law matters, including nuptial agreements and broader wealth protection where corporate and other assets are involved and is increasingly advising on overseas assets.Our family legal experts are ranked in Tier 1 in Legal 500 for Family Law
How do you address the issues in a high-net-worth divorce?
If you wish to divorce or separate, the earlier you receive expert legal advice about your personal situation, the better. We can advise you on all the issues to consider which will vary depending on your individual circumstances.
Due to the complexity of such divorces we at Moore Barlow offer a bespoke service, tailored to your individual needs to help resolve matters in a constructive and conciliatory manner exploring all options for you, whilst protecting your rights and those of your family members, so that you can all start to move on with your lives.
It’s usually more beneficial for all involved (especially children) to try and reach a consensual agreement by using an independent, experienced and accredited mediator. The pair of you attend before a neutral third party, the mediator with the aim of supporting and guiding you both towards your own resolution.
Members of our team are accredited mediators and frequently mediate high net worth cases, guiding you through this flexible and bespoke process. Mediation is a more constructive and beneficial way of handling issues such as finances and children than issuing court proceedings.
Using a collaborative approach
The collaborative approach for divorce arrangements means that both parties and their respective solicitors meet face to face to achieve a settlement between you on issues such as children and finances.
These meetings can be more productive than the traditional way of instructing solicitors, helping both parties to explore different options between them, within a managed environment and with the legal support required on hand. Several of our family law team are trained collaborative solicitors who can help you with this process.
Should the input of a judge be required, as an alternative to issuing proceedings before a court, arbitration can be used to reach an outcome, even if mediation or a collaborative approach has not proven successful or has not been right in your circumstances.
An arbitrator is chosen by the couple, and they are required to make a judgement on what would amount to fair arrangements. Both parties need to agree to be bound by whatever the decision may be and such a decision is final.
If you choose arbitration as an option, Moore Barlow can help you with expert legal advice and support, at every step of the process.
We have offices in London, Richmond, Southampton, Guildford, Lymington and Woking and offer specialist family law assistance to clients nationally and internationally. Contact us for more information.
Frequently asked questions about high-net-worth divorces
What is considered a high net worth divorce?
There is not a set figure at which someone’s financial assets are considered to have a ‘high net worth’ but any couple divorcing who have significant assets in the form of properties, businesses, trusts or r complex financial affairs should secure specialist advice from solicitors experienced in handling cases involving high net worth individuals.
What is involved in a securing a financial settlement for a high net worth couple?
Some of the considerations which can make matters more complex are:
- Accurately valuing complex business structures
- Calculating property asset values, often with properties in various countries to consider
- Accurately valuing pensions and sophisticated investment structures
- Calculating the value of trust interests
Consideration of what may or may not be considered a matrimonial asset if wealth has been established through family gifts or inheritance.
What is the best approach for my divorce if there is a lot of wealth?
Every divorce is unique, with its own complexities and issues, so it’s important that the right approach is taken based on your personal situation. The solicitors at Moore Barlow who have experience in dealing with the particular concerns in a high-net-worth divorce are ideally placed to find the right approach to help protect your interests and achieve resolution for you without recourse to court.
What should you do if your spouse or partner is hiding their wealth?
If you suspect that your spouse is hiding their wealth in a divorce, it’s important to take action straight away as court action may then be necessary. It’s not unheard of for people to try and dispose of assets, move investments or sell property. For those with connections abroad or who have money offshore, it may be easier to endeavour to transfer or hide assets so one needs to act fast by taking specialist legal advice as soon as possible from an experienced lawyer.
You may be able to apply for a court order to stop your spouse from transferring assets in the first place, to transfer assets back or to help to locate funds in the UK and abroad so that they are preserved to form part of the settlement, can be accurately valued and a financial agreement made on the basis of that full financial disclosure.
How to protect yourself from financial claims after a divorce
In order to protect yourself from any future financial claims by your former spouse after a divorce, it’s very important that any financial settlement achieved is detailed in legally binding agreement or order.
In high net worth divorces, the consequences of failing to do this can be more significant and costly, so it’s important to ensure that you take specialist legal advice to draw up a consent order or to help you obtain a final order from the court.
Can I protect my assets in the event of a divorce by putting them in a trust during our marriage?
The area of law governing trusts, particularly in relation to divorce, can be complicated and requires advice from solicitors experienced in this type of case.
Your entitlement to assets in a trust may vary depending upon the terms of the trust, when it was established, why and what benefit you or your spouse may have received from the trust during your marriage.
With so many variables, it’s essential to take expert legal advice if you are looking into setting up a trust or seeking a claim against assets in a trust during a divorce.