Our specialist high net worth divorce lawyers in North Yorkshire are here to support you and your family during this challenging time. With vast experience in high net worth divorces, we’re here to guide you every step of the way.
At Crombie Wilkinson, we understand the emotional impact divorce can have on your family, regardless of your circumstances. For those who hold valuable assets, the process can be made even more stressful by the complexities this wealth brings. Protecting substantial finances and assets can be extremely complex and requires an experienced solicitor to agree the best high net worth divorce settlement for all parties.
Our highly experienced team of divorce solicitors have successfully acted on behalf of many high net worth individuals (HNWI). They are here to guide you through every stage of the process, whatever obstacles may arise.
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What is a high net worth divorce?
A high net worth divorce (HNW) is often much more complex than a typical divorce. That’s because it involves the dividing of considerable assets.
These often include property portfolios, businesses, substantial pension pots, on and offshore savings and cash tied up in trusts and shares.
In some cases, the source of a family’s wealth can span many decades, generations, and also cross international borders. This makes it more complex to decide the share each party is fairly entitled to.
What is a prenuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement (or ‘prenup’) is a legal document signed before a marriage takes place that defines how a couple’s respective assets will be divided in the event of a divorce. They’re especially relevant to high net worth individuals, who frequently have assets they may wish to protect.
You should consider a prenup if you run your own business, if you wish to keep property separate, if there’s a considerable imbalance of assets coming into marriage, if both partners have different nationalities, or if you wish to protect an inheritance. Those entering a second marriage may also wish to ‘ring-fence’ a part of their wealth for children from their first marriage.
Prenuptial agreements are not yet legally binding in the UK, but they are increasingly accepted in divorce proceedings as proof of a couple’s intentions. As the law currently stands, a prenup must fulfil the following requirements to be considered in the courts:
- The document should be drafted by a qualified family law solicitor and be signed at least 28 days before the wedding.
- The agreement must be fair, realistic, and provide for any children.
- Both parties must fully disclose all assets.
- There must be no pressure for either party to sign.
- The couple should each have received independent legal counsel and fully understand the implications of the agreement.
At Crombie Wilkinson, we can help you draft a prenuptial agreement that makes detailed provisions for your future wealth. No one wants to plan for divorce but, without a prenup, we can only advise clients on their current circumstances.
Drafting an agreement in advance, when everyone is happy, sets expectations and can make for a much smoother process if the relationship does break down in the future.
Learn more about our prenuptial agreement services here
Which of your assets can solicitors help to protect?
When we act on your behalf, our HNWI lawyers will endeavour to protect your share of assets where this is fair and reasonable. Our solicitors are accomplished at delivering a fair and favourable outcome for all.
We have helped clients to protect all types of assets in the event of their high net worth divorce, including:
- On and off-shore savings
- Property portfolios
- Trusts and shares
- Equity funds
- Valuable possessions such as cars and jewellery
We will help with every service you need when separating and divorcing, from our specialist family law team through to our conveyancers and wills solicitors so that any property sale is looked after as part of the divorce process and that your will is up to date to reflect your new circumstances.
Contact our team of high net worth divorce solicitors today
What are the most common issues that can arise in a high net worth divorce?
Our high net worth divorce lawyers are seasoned experts when it comes to the intricacies of dividing vast assets. All cases are unique but here are some of the key aspects that we usually manage when acting on your behalf.
Pensions are often one of the most valuable assets on the table in divorces involving couples with substantial wealth. Therefore, it is vital that these are divided in the fairest way possible. This is something we can guide and help you with during your divorce.
Contact our high net worth divorce solicitors to find out more.
Dividing a large pension fund is usually achieved in one of three ways:
- The spouse who has paid into the pension keeps its full value, with the other party compensated by a larger share of other assets. This is known as offsetting.
- An agreement can be struck to share the pension fund, so a specified sum is simply transferred from one spouses’ pension pot to the others.
- Pension attachment orders are another option. These direct a specified portion of the pension to the other party once it becomes payable.
Armed forces pensions, especially, are a valuable asset for those serving in the Army, Royal Navy or Royal Airforce. As a final salary pension with lifetime payouts, they can become a contentious point during divorce proceedings.
If you’re a member of the armed forces and currently going through with a divorce or contemplating divorce, you need expert advice from a solicitor with experience in military divorces. Crombie Wilkinson can guide you through the process and advise on how to protect your armed forces pension in a divorce.
Child maintenance and school fees
One of the most important matter to settle is how the divorce will impact on your children’s lives. It is vital to establish how each spouse will contribute to the care and financial support for their children.
For high net worth individuals, calculating child maintenance payments may not be as straight forward as obtaining a calculation from the Child Maintenance Service.
That’s because spouses may earn more than the £156,000 per year, which is the maximum limit for a CMS calculation to be made. As a result, courts may need to consider all income sources to ensure that a fair provision is decided.
When it comes to private school fees, it is usually agreed between spouses the shares they will contribute once the divorce is official. However, if an agreement can’t be reached, an application will be made in court for a fair contribution.
Upon the dissolution of a marriage or civil partnership, the courts may rule that one spouse or partner must legally provide financial support to the other. Based on the needs for additional support above their own income, this spousal maintenance is a separate order to child maintenance.
Traditionally, spousal maintenance is paid as a monthly sum, but it’s increasingly common for couples and the courts to opt for a ‘clean break’ payment – a one-off lump sum followed a severance of all financial ties between both parties.
The division of property
Property assets can encompass anything from UK owned homes and pieces of land, holiday villas, rental properties and overseas investments.
Regardless of who contributed to their purchase, all property is on the table in divorce proceedings. So it is vital that you seek advice from a solicitor to protect the share of this property, to which you are entitled to.
Assets that have been inherited
The matter of inherited assets is a commonly contested aspect of divorce proceedings. If one spouse inherited a sum of money individually, does this count as a joint marital asset?
In England and Wales, inherited assets are not automatically placed on the table, to be divided between spouses. It is down to the discretion of a court, whether or not they form part of the marital pot.
There will be a question of whether or not the needs of each party, as well as the children to a marriage, are being met with other assets. If that is not the case, then it is possible that money inherited individually will then need to be divided.
Many high net worth divorces can involve the valuation of a business, which is owned either fully or in part by one or both spouses.
This is another highly valuable asset, which is commonly contested in divorce proceedings. As businesses are usually in the name of just one spouse, this party is likely to be very reluctant for the divorce to have an impact commercially.
It is rare that a court would insist on a business being sold or its ownership divided, as part of proceedings. It is much more likely that business ownership is offset against other assets.
The hiding of assets
Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to divorce. Each party should each declare their exact financial position, in order for assets to be divided fairly.
It is, however, not unheard of for a spouse to pursue a concealment of certain property or investments. If you suspect that your husband or wife is hiding some of their wealth, this can usually be uncovered by an independent forensic accountant.
Another option is for an application to be made in court. This not only brings the non-disclosure to light but can also result in suitable remedies being sought to reveal your spouse’s true wealth.
Do you have a specific question for our high net worth divorce lawyers? Or would you like to set up an initial appointment with our team? Please contact our specialists, who are here to support you.