High-profile divorce cases are complicated. The difference between an average outcome and an excellent result can have significant financial ramifications, requiring the expertise of a highly respected family law firm. The process for the executive or the executive’s spouse requires specialized legal skills and financial expertise.
If you are an executive of a corporation and enjoy a significant compensation package, there are many factors to consider in a divorce. You may own equitable interests in the company and be entitled to deferred compensation and pension funds. Subject to the initial assessment of whether these assets are separate or community property, these assets are subject to division in a divorce, and it is my job to ensure that correct evaluation of income and assets are made. The professional career as an executive must be considered when distributing the marital estate.
The objective of our firm is to protect marital assets such that current and future compensation is evaluated. If the business was started prior to marriage, we will protect that property interest as it can impact the equalization payment and child and spousal support. We will review all issues such as investments, stock options, equity positions, appreciation of separate property interests, tax issues, real estate and personal property issues, collectibles, investment portfolios, debts, judgments, and legal obligations.
But which facts must be considered in an executive divorce?
1. Planning for divorce
Think of a divorce as a road paved with many hazards. Are you going to just charge in and figure out your plan and direction later? The best divorce lawyers would tell you this is foolish. Filing immediately (unless there is a true emergency at issue, such as the children’s health or safety) is often not wise. Divorce planning starts before you file. Putting together a balance sheet of the income, expenses, assets and debts and planning a strategy and a budget are important first steps to a divorce.
2. Public or private judge
There is a choice. The best divorce lawyers talk to their clients about that choice. If the financial information of a business or personal income and assets should be kept out of the public eye, the cost of a private judge to handle the case may be well worth keeping most of the financial information out of a court file. Nearly everything that is filed in court becomes public record. In a divorce that involves significant assets and income, that may not be something either spouse wants. We believe the best lawyers bring this option to the table with their client as well as their spouse’s lawyer at the outset of the case.
3. Resolving custody and visitation early
Custody is one of the most hotly litigated issue in divorce cases. Orange County family court is riddled with custody cases. The last thing either parent should want is a custody battle. However, in a case where the executive is concerned his or her spouse will use the children as leverage, especially for an executive that doesn’t have a consistent schedule and needs the flexibility of the other parent. Getting child custody and visitation resolved and as part of a court order can avoid tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in lawyer’s fees.
4. Retaining experts early
Experts come in different forms. The best divorce lawyers like to bring in a forensic accountant early in cases where controllable cash flow for child support and alimony are an issue and/or if there are business valuation issues. But that is not the only type of expert that may needed. Executives may also want to look at retaining:
- A mutually agreed and court appointed forensic psychologist if the parents are unable to resolve the custody issues and there are serious allegations of physical abuse, neglect or substance abuse in the case
- A vocational evaluator if the executive’s spouse refuses to work but has the ability to do so and the opportunity for employment is present. Some thought should go into this because if the income potential of the spouse is minimal and there is a great disparity of income between the executive and his or her spouse, a vocational evaluation may not be worth the cost.
- An appraiser or different types of appraisers may be necessary in the event a home, commercial building, antiques, artwork, class cars, wine collection or other items of great value need to be valued and divided.
WE WILL BE THERE WHEN YOU CALL
Divorce cases are very difficult and complex. You need an experienced Los Angeles Family Attorney to guide you through the legal process. Contact our law firm today at 562-439-9001 if you or someone you know needs the help of an experienced family law attorney. We will be here for you when you call. Schedule a free consultation!
We are very central to all of Long Beach, Seal Beach, Lakewood, Palos Verdes, San Pedro, Newport Beach; and regularly serve all of Los Angeles.
This is intended as general advice and should not be interpreted as legal advice. Each situation is unique and requires specific analysis of relevant contracts, facts and legal obligations.