As if divorce is not already complicated, imagine having to undergo divorce in a high-net-worth marriage. Indeed, you and your spouse may own and operate large amounts of property within the marriage. This includes having high monthly incomes, shares in public companies, owning large pieces of land and even owning intellectual property.
Distributing marital property during divorce is done on a case-by-case basis. As opposed to other countries where the law may provide for a 50/50 distribution or an equitable distribution of marital assets, Australia's family law provisions give judges discretion in determining the best way through which these assets will be distributed.
You may be wondering what you can do to watch out for your best interests and to ensure that you're satisfied by the decisions made. Here are three questions you should ask yourself in preparation for a high-net-worth divorce and the subsequent distribution of property.
1. Should you develop a post-nuptial agreement?
You may already be familiar with a pre-nuptial agreement from other high-net-worth divorce cases. This agreement outlines how marital assets will be distributed between each spouse in the event of a divorce.
A post-nuptial agreement works in a similar way but can be negotiated during the course of the marriage. This agreement makes it easier for the couple to determine who gets what in the event of a divorce.
2. How will company property be distributed?
Another question you should tackle is how property such as shares and intellectual assets will be distributed. You and your spouse may both own a percentage of shares in a public company. How will these shares be distributed? Do you prefer a 50/50 arrangement? Would you rather sell the stock and split the money between you two?
Determining how company stock will be distributed after a divorce will also be critical to the future performance of the company itself. There are cases where divorced couples have battled over their stake in a company, forcing them to sell their stock in the process (this happened to the billionaire casino personality Steve Wynn and his now ex-wife in 2011).
3. Will spousal support be necessary?
You and your partner should also determine if spousal support would be necessary after a divorce. If there's a significant difference in income between one partner and another, the lower-earning spouse may need support in maintaining a lifestyle close to the one they had before divorce. Such a situation will warrant alimony payments and child support (if there are children within the marriage).
Ironing out these issues through a mediation process will make it easier for you to fairly distribute marital assets with minimal hassle.
If you need help taking your divorce to court, contact a family law solicitor in your area.