Recently it was reported that the apparent delay in the finalization of the divorce between Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore is a dispute between the actors and their lawyers over the division of a $100 million venture capital fund owned, in-part, by Kutcher. Ah, it is always interesting when light is shed on the issues and problems of the Hollywood elite. But, the larger issue of the factors and considerations involved in a high asset divorce in Missouri deserve a closer look.
The end of a marriage between a couple that have interests in assets with a high value can pose much more complexity then one without a similar level of property interests. For this reason, it is critical that each party have contact a lawyer with the experience and knowledge to handle these potentially complex challenges.
Further, apparently unlike this particular Hollywood “super couple”, most clients, regardless of the level of the assets, want their personal life and the details of the issues in the dissolution of their marriage to be kept within the utmost level of confidentiality. The Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct detail a Missouri lawyer’s ethical responsibility to keep the details of their attorney – client relationship confidential. Nonetheless, it is important for both the client and the attorney to have a discussion as to what is confidential and what is expected to be kept confidential and what steps may be available to further protect their privacy while going through a dissolution of their marriage. Check back with this blog for a future discussion on this topic.
In a large asset divorce one of the first steps will be to determine the identity as well as the nature of all of the assets. In particular, how your family court judge views your assets as either simply an assets that needs to be valued and then divided or as an asset that is also an income producer could significantly impact the look of the particular outcome of a client’s divorce. For example, a lawyer and client must measure how the division of an income producing asset could impact the respective support (child support and spousal maintenance) obligations of the parties.
Depending on the nature of the assets, the lawyer will need to be comfortable and experienced with the potential use of outside experts which may be necessary to achieve the best possible result for their client. For example, in large asset divorces it may be necessary to hire an expert to determine the value of a business; to hire a forensic accountant or CPA to determine the nature of an asset or to attempt to discover assets which may be hidden or not previously disclosed during the divorce or to testify about the potential tax consequences of a particular asset division; to hire a vocational expert to render an opinion as to a particular spouse’s ability to earn income through employment; or to hire an actuary to render an opinion as to the present value of an asset that may not produce income until a future date, such as a pension. A client must be comfortable in the advice of their attorney as to the necessity of experts in their divorce. And, the attorney must be comfortable and knowledgeable about what a particular expert can actually offer their client.
Of course, the execution an ante-nuptial agreement either before the marriage of after can significantly impact the terms or any divorce. In this case the attorneys for each couple will likely be first attempting to verify the enforceability of the agreement based upon how it was prepared as well as the impact. See our previous blog on this matter.
Regardless of the level of your assets or their complexities, if you find yourself facing divorce in St. Charles County, St. Louis County, Warren County or Lincoln County you should contact our office today for a free consultation about your particular situation.