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Kardos, Rickles & Hand Bucks County Divorce Attorney
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Montgomery County High Income/Net Worth Divorce Attorney

Most high asset divorces fall into one of two categories. Sometimes, one spouse climbs a corporate ladder while the other spouse holds it steady. Only one spouse’s contribution might be financial, but they were both equal. Other times, the spouses put their talents together and grow a business into a profitable enterprise. Once again, regardless of their specific roles, both spouses made roughly equal contributions.

At Kardos, Rickles & Hand, our experienced Montgomery County high income divorce attorneys understand the complex issues involved in these matters. So, we quickly evaluate your claims and set out your legal options, carefully explaining the pros and cons of each one. Once we jointly decide on a course of action, we do not stop fighting for you until we obtain the best possible result under the circumstances.

Property Division Factors

Regardless of the level of assets or debts, Pennsylvania law requires an equitable division of both these things. Some factors to consider, in no particular order, include:

  • Tax considerations of the overall property division, particularly the 2017 alimony payment and distribution tax rules,

  • Maintaining, to the greatest extent possible, the high standard of living each spouse enjoyed during the marriage,

  • Value of property awarded to each spouse, including nonmarital property awards and prior divorce settlements, if any,

  • Noneconomic contributions to the relationship (a/k/a the “homemaker factor”), especially if one spouse surrendered career advancement opportunities to become a caregiver,

  • Future income potential, given the relative age, health, education level, and employment background of each spouse, and

  • The length of the marriage.

In Pennsylvania, there is a presumption that an equal division is also equitable under the circumstances. To alter that outcome, a party must meet the burden of proof and the burden of persuasion.

The burden of proof is usually proof by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). That standard is rather low. The burden of persuasion is often much higher. Some judges are not easily convinced that a grossly disproportionate division is equitable under the circumstances.

Business Division Issues

These factors do not just dominate the discussion in corporate ladder marriage dissolutions. They also control high asset divorces which involve a family business. However, there are some additional things to consider.

Several methods are available to assess a business’ value. Usually, these methods involve an outside appraiser. Some businesses have extensive assets, so that’s the best way to value them. Other businesses generate significant income but have almost no assets. So, a different model is clearly needed.

There are some special problems as well, mostly regarding business goodwill. Many times, goodwill, although it is an intangible asset, is also the largest asset. Typically, if the goodwill comes from a spouse’s name (Flo’s Beauty Shop), the goodwill is nonmarital property which is not subject to division. If the goodwill comes from the name itself (a chain of McDonald’s restaurants), the goodwill is marital property.

Finally, there is the final distribution issue. Selling the business and dividing the proceeds is not always the best approach. Some people are better business partners than spouses, so the business could continue uninterrupted. Other times, especially if a spouse wants to pass the business on to children, a setoff is in order. For example, a spouse could pay greater alimony in exchange for full ownership of the business.

Reach Out to a Savvy Attorney

High asset divorces involve special issues. For a confidential consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Montgomery County, contact Kardos, Rickles & Hand. After hours, virtual, and home visits are available.

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