There can be a number of differences both big and small in high-net-worth divorce, including:
1. Child support calculations
In high-net-worth divorce where ability to pay is not an issue, rather than strictly rely on formulas found in the child support guidelines to determine an award, judges use, as a guideline, the reasonable needs of the children addressed in the context of the standard of living of the parties.
This ruling extends back to a case involving former New York Giants player Michael Strahan. It gives judges more leeway to adjust support so the child’s lifestyle more closely matches the high-net-worth parent’s standard of living.
In situations where there is a great disparity in the spouses’ income levels, the lesser earning spouse may need to argue for considerable spousal support to maintain the marital lifestyle. Spousal support may be a main issue in the divorce. On the other hand, if both spouses are high-income earners, alimony might not be an issue at all in the divorce because neither party needs it.
In the typical divorce, the couple’s marital home and any retirement accounts are usually the main assets to be divided. In a high-net-worth divorce, there can be multiple homes, vacation homes, stock accounts, business investments, art collections, and expensive jewelry to distribute. Asset division may become a more multi-layered process that can require outside testimony from appraisers and financial experts.
There can also be different kinds of worries. A lower-earning spouse may be worried about losing their social standing or lifestyle as the result of the divorce. A higher-earning spouse may be worried about protecting their accumulated assets. There can also be fears about privacy, who can gain information about the divorce. Also, will the couple’s finances become a matter of public record, for instance.
Bari Zell Weinberger is the owner and managing partner of Weinberger Law Group in New Jersey. She is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney.