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New York High-Asset Divorce

Divorces are often complex for a variety of reasons. However, divorces involving spouses with a high net worth are particularly complicated. High net worth divorces commonly involve atypical assets such as offshore accounts and can involve intricate tax issues, complex real estate transactions, and valuations of business interests. When significant complex assets are involved in a divorce,= it is important to consult an experienced divorce lawyer to ensure your interests are protected. In addition to issues related to property division, as with any divorce, there will also be matters that must be resolved related to child custody and visitation, as well as other financial issues such as child support and spousal maintenance that can make an already complicated divorce even more complex. If you are contemplating filing for divorce and substantial assets will be involved, it is important that you contact an experienced New York high-asset divorce lawyer who understands complex finances and who will help ensure that your interests are protected throughout the divorce process.

Property division in high-asset divorces

Under New York law when a marriage ends property is divided based on the concept of “equitable distribution.” In other words property such as the marital home, vehicles, cash, collectibles and even pets must be divided not based on whose name is attached to the property and not based on a 50/50 split. Property will be distributed based in a fair manner based on a number of factors. In addition to the marital property that married couples commonly have such as a house, car, and checking account, high net work couples often have:

  • Real estate holdings can include a variety of property types. For example, high-asset couples may have a primary residence as well as homes in other places such a beach house or a country home. Real estate may also include rental and commercial property.
  • Business interests. The couple’s business interests will be evaluated as marital property. This includes ownership interests such as partnerships, but also compensation arrangements that may result in future income such as deferred compensation plans and stock options. In addition, professional licenses and degrees may also be considered a marital asset.
  • Retirement accounts can include a variety of accounts such as a defined benefit pension, a defined contribution account, IRAs and 401(k)s. Any retire accounts to which contributions were made during the marriage is marital property and both spouses are entitled to a portion thereof.
  • Brokerage accounts that hold stocks, bonds, and other types of investments. During a divorce it is important to determine the present value of these accounts, but also the future value when figuring out how these accounts should be distributed.

Other common assets involved in high net worth divorces include international investments, artwork, collectibles, offshore accounts, and trusts.

Impact of a prenuptial agreement

Wealthy couples frequently sign pre- or post-nuptial agreements. This does not mean that that there will not be contested issues during a divorce. In some instances the agreement only covers certain issues such as property division and spousal support, but does not cover issues such as child custody and child support. In other instances a so-called “air-tight” agreement is not so air-tight and do not hold up under legal scrutiny. For example, in the case of Gottlieb v. Gottlieb, 2016 NY Slip Op 613 (N.Y. App. Div., 2016), Jacob Gottlieb asked Alexandra Gottlieb to sign a prenuptial agreement. Both parties were well-educate and had significant work histories prior to marrying. Ultimately the Jacob became the majority owner in a hedge fund that he started and had a high income. At the time of the divorce the couple had two children and substantial assets. The prenuptial agree provided that Alexandra would receive an insignificant amount of spousal support, but would receive assets of over $2 million. In addition, Jacob would pay for her housing until the children turned 18. However, Alexandra contested the prenuptial agreement. The court eventually found in favor of Jacob.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you are considering divorce and you or your spouse has assets with a significant value, it is important that you are represented by someone with experience in high net worth divorces. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully representing clients in high net worth divorces and complex marital estates. We also represent clients on issues related to custody, child support and spousal support. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

Client Reviews
My ex-husband hadn't paid child support or the mortgage on the house as he was supposed to. Stephen Bilkis and his team of lawyers were amazing. They stopped the foreclosure on the house, Got a judgment against him and most importantly kept me and my children in the house. Can't say enough good things about him in the firm their compassion hard work and dedication were exceptional. I.G.
From the very first phone call to Stephen Bilkis' office, the staff was extremely polite and helpful in assisting me. Mr. Bilkis was honest and upfront with me from the beginning in what he projected the outcome of my case would be; in the end we got better results than either of us anticipated. He was very genuine and compassionate in understanding my situation and how this legal matter could effect not only myself but my family as well. I highly recommend this law firm and will most definitely continue using them for any future legal needs. Jarrett
Stephen has handled numerous estate matters, criminal matters and family court matters effectively and with a goal-oriented approach. He gets great results and is a results-oriented attorney. Dustin