There’s a lot that could be lost in any divorce. When you’re wealthy and are facing a high-asset divorce, the stakes are even higher. This is why finding the right divorce lawyer is critical.
You don’t want to risk your divorce settlement by hiring just any lawyer. You need a divorce lawyer who is well-versed in high-net-worth divorces. One who has a proven track record of helping their clients get a divorce settlement that isn’t only fair to them but is also to their satisfaction. This begs the question: how do you find the right divorce lawyer if you’re rich?
Tips on How to Hire the Right Divorce Lawyer
Determine Your Goals and Budget
Finding the best divorce attorney for your situation begins with some self-reflection. Set aside some time to think about your goals for your divorce. Consider questions such as:
- What assets do you want to keep?
- Which ones do you care less about?
- Which assets can be used as a negotiating tool?
- How do you see your lifestyle after your divorce is finalized?
- Do you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse agree on some crucial aspects of the divorce settlement?
- Will you file a contested or uncontested divorce?
Next, determine what your budget is for legal help. How much money are you willing to pay for the services of a qualified high-asset divorce attorney? Keep in mind that your attorney is truly an investment into your future when it comes to a divorce. You may have to spend more money to be able to keep more of your assets or have your divorce settled in a way that you find acceptable going forward.
Ask for Referrals
With approximately half of all American marriages ending in divorce, there’s a good chance you know several people who have weathered a divorce with the help of a high-net-worth divorce attorney. Ask friends, family members, coworkers, neighbors, clients, professionals, and anyone else you might feel comfortable with who helped them with their divorce.
Often, word-of-mouth referrals are the best way to find the right divorce lawyer for you. With these types of referrals, you have the opportunity to ask questions and dig a little deeper into someone who has first-hand experience. Find out what they liked about the attorney, if their divorce settlement was to their satisfaction, and if they would use the same lawyer again.
Do Your Research
With the names of several attorneys, it’s time to sit down and do some research. Look at their websites. Do they appear to have experience handling high-asset divorce cases? Do they offer consultations? You can also perform a search for their reviews. What are their clients saying about them? Did they have good results using their representation?
Schedule a Consultation
Once you narrow your list to just a couple of potential divorce attorneys, schedule a consultation. You should have the opportunity to meet with them before you hire them. A consultation gives you the chance to find out if:
- You can build a rapport with them
- They understand your divorce goals and how high your stakes might be
- They can appreciate your concerns
- They’ve helped divorcing spouses in similar situations as yours before
- They have the experience you are looking for
During this consultation, it will be crucial for you to discuss the types of assets you have and your desires and concerns for them in your divorce. You want to be sure the divorce lawyer you hire has extensive knowledge and experience settling and litigating divorces involving the assets you are dealing with. If they don’t, you’ll want to keep looking.
The Best Divorce Attorney Isn’t Necessarily the Most Expensive
It’s easy and natural to be drawn to more expensive law firms. Society conditions people to think that if a service or a professional is more costly, they must be better. Just because a divorce attorney charges a lot of money for their services, it doesn’t mean that they are the best or have a history of satisfied clients. As a general rule, the cheapest attorney isn’t always best for low-budget divorces, just as the most expensive attorney isn’t always best for high-asset divorces. Don’t judge a divorce attorney simply by the size of their bills.
Only Hire Attorneys that Have Experience with High-Asset Divorces
Even if they came with high praises, you wouldn’t see a general practitioner if you needed cancer treatment. They could be the best general doctor, but without specialized education and training as well as experience, they aren’t likely the best choice if you want to beat cancer.
The same holds for divorce lawyers. You can hire the best divorce lawyer in your area. However, if they don’t have much experience with wealthy divorces, the odds won’t likely be in your favor. They need to understand your assets, the potential ways they can impact a divorce, their tax implications, and many other aspects of a high-net-worth divorce to be able to truly help you achieve your goals.
In general, high-asset divorce attorneys should have experience with the following:
- Out-of-state assets
- International assets
- Detecting hidden assets
- How asset division can impact taxes
- Solely or jointly owned businesses as assets
- Business valuation
- Forensic accounting
- Real estate appraisals
- Qualified domestic relations orders (QDRO)
- Employee benefits, including stock options and deferred compensation
- Spousal support relating to self-employment compensation issues
You need a skilled lawyer who will account for the financial climate of your marriage and who has the time and willingness to help you obtain records of all your financial documents. A high-asset divorce lawyer should have the ability to work with forensic accountants, business valuation experts, and other professionals to make your divorce settlement and post-divorce life the best it can be.
The Bottom Line
You’ve worked hard and wisely managed your assets to get to where you are today. Don’t let a divorce or choosing the wrong divorce attorney tarnish your efforts and hard work. Continue to protect your assets and make wise decisions by hiring the right high-net-worth divorce attorney for your situation.
Angela Elliott Frazier is a South Carolina attorney who practices in the areas of family law, conservator and guardianship, and personal injury. Ms. Frazier obtained her law degree from the University of South Carolina and practiced for seven years prior to opening the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC in 2012.