When a divorce involves a large estate, it’s critical to value assets appropriately. Overlooking the asset valuation process may result in a spouse receiving far less than they deserve. California litigants involved in a high-asset divorce should be aware of the special considerations that are important to receiving justice.
Appropriately dividing assets in a high-asset divorce begins with identifying what assets exist. A party may actively take steps to conceal assets, or a party may not have been a part of the family finances during the marriage. Asset discovery involves preparing subpoenas, conducting depositions, demanding records and interviewing witnesses. A forensic audit may be appropriate to look for signs of hidden assets.
Valuations and appraisals
Once assets are identified, the valuation process can begin. For high-value assets, a party typically uses an appraiser or accountant. Receipts of purchase can also be indicators of value. Parties may present appraisals and valuations that contradict each other. The court must evaluate the conflicting evidence and determine the value of the item. A business can also be valued by examining income, expenses and tangible assets. Once the court values the item, there are multiple legal options for dividing assets.
Child and spousal support obligations
Valuing assets in a high-asset divorce is an important part of determining child and spousal support obligations. The availability of assets along with an evaluation of income can inform the court as to the appropriate amount of child and spousal support. Even an advanced degree may be considered a valuable asset that is worthy of reimbursement. Carefully examine what has come to either party by nature of the marriage and what resources the paying spouse may have available to pay support.
Understanding the importance of asset valuation
Without appropriately valuing assets, a party cannot receive a fair distribution in a high-asset divorce. California law allows litigants to conduct discovery in order to identify assets. A party must work diligently to prove the value of assets and ask the court for the appropriate distribution.