Coates & Davenport, P.C.

A high asset divorce can bring financial surprises

According to a survey conducted by Worthy, an Internet marketplace, 46 percent of female respondents who were contemplating divorce, were in the process of divorcing or were currently divorced reported that they experienced unexpected financial issues due to the split. This is significant, especially in a high asset divorce where financial issues may take center stage. It is important for spouses of either sex in Virginia to anticipate the following financial issues they may experience due to divorce, so they can sufficiently prepare for them.

First, it is important to be aware of exactly how much marital debt one has. This is because during property division, not only will marital assets be divided -- marital debts will be divided as well. This could affect what a person walks away with financially when the divorce is completed.

Second, spouses going through a divorce who anticipate being awarded child support or spousal support should keep their expectations in check. They may not be awarded as much as they think they will, and support may be temporary, not permanent. This, in turn, may mean that they must return to the workforce or change their lifestyle following their divorce.

Third, there is no guarantee that one will automatically be awarded the marital home. The marital home, like other marital property, is part of the divisible marital estate. While it may be awarded to one spouse or the other, it is also possible that it will be sold, and the proceeds will split between the spouses. Also, if a spouse wants to retain the marital home, they must make sure they will be able to afford the expenses associated with homeownership.

All these financial issues are amplified when it comes to a high asset divorce. Virginia follows the rules of equitable distribution when it comes to property division. This means that division will be based on fairness, which may not lead to an even 50/50 split. In addition, courts are moving away from orders of permanent spousal support in favor of rehabilitative spousal support, which may last only as long as it takes for the receiving spouse to obtain sufficient employment to become self-supporting. By understanding how a divorce will impact one's finances in the future, a person can make decisions that are in their best interests.

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