We are Accredited Divorce Specialists in High Net Worth Divorce cases, where the value of the matrimonial assets is high and there may also be complicated legal issues at stake.
These cases are often called High Net Worth (HNW) divorces.
As a result of the value of the assets involved the importance of expert professional advice is paramount.
First and foremost you need specialised legal advice but in order to ensure that you achieve the best possible settlement it is almost always beneficial to obtain advice from Property Valuers, Forensic Accountants, Independent Financial Advisers and Tax Specialists.
Pulling all these different specialities is not straightforward but we can do this for you. We believe that having an expert team working on your behalf is essential and will put you at least one step ahead of your adversary.
You might be a landowner, a company director, a professional sportsperson or have otherwise amassed wealth through hard work or inheritance.
You might be married to a person who you know has great wealth but you have no idea of the extent of that wealth because you have been kept in the dark.
In either of these situations and whether you are seeking a divorce or the other party has decided to separate it is important that you obtain the level of service and expertise that is needed for your case.
High Net Worth cases are not necessarily more complicated but they always require greater experience and knowledge to ensure that ;
• Full disclosure takes place
• The matrimonial property is properly identified
• Accurate valuations are obtained
In many cases the matrimonial assets will be split equally but there are sometimes special reasons why one party should receive a greater share than the other. Specialised advice is needed to recognise these situations and to argue why one person should receive more than the other.
Ideally you would not find yourself in this situation. You would have been advised to sign a prenuptial agreement before you got married. This type of Agreement sets out what the financial settlement would be in the event of a divorce. This makes everything simpler as there will be no dispute as to how the assets should be shared as it will be set out clearly in the prenup.
Having a prenup also keeps the legal costs of divorce down as there is nothing to argue about as the terms of the PreNup are binding.
It goes without saying that if you are thinking about marriage and you wish to protect your assets you should get in touch with us and we will provide you expert advice as to whether a PreNup is necessary and, if so, what its terms should be.
High Net Worth Divorce Cases – Legal Advice
There is no strict definition as to what amounts to a High Net Worth Divorce. With the value of residential property soaring and recent generations benefiting from legacies from their parents it is easy for the value of the matrimonial assets to amount to millions of pounds.
If pensions, businesses, investments and trusts are added into the mix the assets could amount to many millions.
There is so much at stake and a high degree of expertise and care is required.
One of the most significant and important issues in such cases is the experience of the various professionals involved. If they have advised in similar cases before it is far more likely that you will receive advice that will be beneficial to your case.
Picking the Best Team
As we have said if you are divorcing (and there is no PreNup in place) and because there is so much at stake it is essential to not only obtain the best legal advice but also to involve other experienced professionals.
At Rooney Family Law we have brought together an elite Team of Legal and Forensic specialists who have experience of high value cases.
These specialists will work together to achieve the best results for you.
We work with;
• Advocates and QCs who only specialise in Family Law. If your case is to be heard at the Court of Session it is necessary to instruct an Advocate or QC to represent you over and above your Family Lawyer. We can help you identify the best advocate for your case.
• Forensic Accountants. If there is a business involved you will want to make sure that an accurate valuation of the business is calculated at the date of separation. This type of valuation can be complex and it is essential that you have an experienced accountant on your side who has valued similar businesses before.
• Surveyors. Clients are likely to have at least one residential property. Sometimes there will be multiple homes. There may also be commercial property. Accurate valuations of these matrimonial assets are essential.
• Independent Financial Advisors (IFAs). From Pensions to Investments advice is needed in relation to obtaining valuations and also with a view to making the best decisions about how to invest any financial settlement in the future.
• Tax Advisers. Many lawyers and most IFAs are reluctant to provide tax advice. It is a specialist area. It is also a crucial area when financial settlements are being agreed. Are there any tax implications of the settlement which could affect the fairness of the settlement. Some of the most complicated reported Family Law cases have involved disputes about how tax law should be interpreted in Family cases.
There may also be aspects of your case that might require advice on International Law. In some cases the parties may own residential property in different countries. Businesses owned by the parties might trade in different jurisdictions.
As is widely known the laws in other countries are often quite different. There are, for example, major differences between Scottish and English Law. It might benefit one party to raise a divorce action in a particular country as their laws are beneficial to that party’s case.
We have associations with lawyers in other jurisdictions and can help you find the right lawyer for your case.
What Are the Matrimonial Assets?
Not all countries define matrimonial assets the same way.
In Scotland any asset that has been acquired between the date of the marriage and the date of separation is regarded as matrimonial property.
It follows from this that assets acquired before the marriage or after the separation are not matrimonial property and are not considered when negotiating a financial settlement.
An exception to this rule is the Family Home. If a residential property is purchased before the marriage but with the intention of it becoming the Family Home then it will be regarded as a matrimonial asset and will be included in any settlement discussions.
Assets which will be regarded as Matrimonial Property if acquired during the marriage include;
• Family Trusts – Sometimes assets are placed in trust to try and take them out of consideration. Case law has shown that Judges are quite prepared to look into the purpose of the Trust to ascertain if it should be regarded as a matrimonial asset or not.
• Businesses – Family businesses often create problems in Divorce cases. It is important to identify when the business started. Was it before or after the marriage? If it was after the business is a matrimonial asset. If before maybe not, although there are various laws relating to businesses which could mean they could become matrimonial assets even if they were acquired before the marriage. Accurate valuation is essential.
• Multiple Homes – the Family Home plus any second or other homes owned by the parties
• Offshore investments – Obtaining full disclosure and employing an experienced IFA is important here.
• High value Pensions – Pension Sharing is common in Divorce settlements. After long marriages, pensions can have high values. Making sure that accurate valuations are obtained and that any Pension is apportioned for the period of the marriage is essential. Again the involvement of an IFA experienced in Family cases is key.
• Inherited Wealth – This may or may not be matrimonial property depending on a number of different factors. Depending on the circumstances there may also be arguments for unequal sharing. Expert legal advice required.
• Yachts/Art/Cars/Jewellery – IN HNW cases these assets often have high values and accurate valuations are a necessity.
Expert Advice Needed for High Net Worth Divorce Cases
It is clear that these types of cases are not run of the mill. If your Family Lawyer treats this type of case in the same way as any other then there could be serious financial repercussions.
When millions of pounds are at stake even small mistakes can be costly.
You need an Expert Accredited Family Lawyer who has previous experience of HNW cases and can guide you through the maze towards the best outcome.
Often it is not only legal advice that is needed. We have a Team of divorce specialists who can provide comprehensive advice and work seamlessly on your behalf.
If you would like to have an initial consultation to discuss your case and find out more about how the Accredited Family Lawyers can help with your case contact us now on 0800 779 7848.
To find out more about dealing with your pensions and divorce please visit our page on this for more information.