Do divorces at higher income brackets become more complex?

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2023 | Family Law |

Divorce is a challenging and stressful process for anyone, but it can be especially complicated for couples with a large number of assets and that are in higher income levels. In Virginia, high-asset divorces involve many issues that require careful planning, negotiation and legal expertise.

Property division

Virginia is an equitable distribution state, which means that marital property must be divided fairly, but not necessarily equally, in a divorce. However, determining what constitutes marital property and how to value it can be difficult in high-asset cases. Couples may have a wide range of assets, such as retirement accounts, real estate properties, stocks and bonds, businesses and intellectual property, trusts and offshore accounts, artwork and collectibles, etc.

Separate property

Some of these assets may be partially or entirely separate property, which belongs to one spouse only and is not subject to division. Separate property can include assets acquired before the marriage, inherited or gifted during the marriage or purchased with separate funds. However, separate property can become marital property if it is commingled with marital funds or used for the benefit of both spouses. For example, if one spouse inherits a house and then uses marital income to renovate it, the house may become part marital property.

Divide property equitably

To divide property equitably, the court will consider many factors, such as the duration of the marriage, contributions of each spouse to the acquisition and maintenance of the property, earning potential of each spouse and the tax consequences of the division. In high-asset divorces, it is often necessary to hire experts, such as appraisers, accountants, business valuators and forensic investigators, to determine the nature and value of the assets and to uncover any hidden or transferred assets.

Child support

In Virginia, both parents have a duty to support their children financially. The amount of child support is calculated based on a formula that takes into account the number of children, income of both parents, cost of health insurance and education and the custody arrangement. However, the formula only applies to parents who have a combined gross monthly income of up to $35,000 or $420,000 annually.

If the parents’ income exceeds this amount, the court will determine the appropriate amount of child support based on the needs of the children and the ability of each parent to pay. The court may consider factors such as the lifestyle that the children enjoyed during the marriage, educational opportunities available to the children, special needs or talents of the children, the extracurricular activities and hobbies of the children, etc.