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How to avoid a messy high-net worth divorce

While not always the case in New York, high-asset divorces often coincide with very public separations. Wealthy couples often play key roles as community leaders from a commercial, political or entertainment standpoint. Because there is so much at stake, these divorces are arguably far more likely to be messy.

Even when angry with each other, making a joint and amicable announcement to end the marriage may be wise. A celebrity’s announcement to the media may come to mind here, but for lower profile high-asset couples, this may be an announcement to friends, family and colleagues. If both spouses share investments or a business, this is especially important due to a shared source of income.

In fact, CNBC points out that money is the biggest stress factor in relationships. This may bring to mind images of a poor and struggling couple, but it is wealthy couples who tend to have a harder time holding it together. One reason for this is that when a couple includes a very high-earner, they may work long hours and travel far distances away from home. Meanwhile, their spouse may need to give up their careers to take care of the family. This may create a financial and power imbalance in the relationship.

Forbes recommends a laser-focus on shared and individual priorities. These may include the following:

  •          Restructuring the family in the most beneficial way for all parties involved
  •          Deciding how to file taxes, regarding who will claim the child or children
  •          Dividing up assets to create a win-win situation whenever possible
  •          Maintaining business as usual with family, friends and colleagues

Forbes also notes that to keep couples on track, it is important to establish a team of professionals. Unless both parties are retired, chances are work must continue as usual. Divorce can feel like a full-time job, so delegating some of the technical responsibilities to professionals may be the best way to avoid overlooking, neglecting or mishandling important tasks. These professionals may also act as mediators if necessary, thereby helping to maintain the peace.

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