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Tips for surviving a high-asset divorce

Divorces are expensive -- and your costs are bound to be higher if you happen to have a family business and any significant disputes about who should get what.

When you and your spouse have built your fortune together, this is how you start to break it apart:

1. Get your family business valuated. Many high-asset divorces involve family businesses, and in order to come up with a way to divide things fairly, everything has to be inventoried and assigned a value. Each spouse's relative contribution to that business has to be established. Someone who was largely a silent partner, for example, wouldn't have put as much into the business as a spouse who handles the day-to-day operation.

2. Don't make any of the mistakes common to high-asset divorces. Things like stowing cash in a safety deposit box, hiding assets in a relative's name or opening an overseas account while you plan your divorce are illegal -- and they'll prolong your divorce while your spouse holds everything up looking for what you've hidden. You may end up spending more in legal fees trying to keep what you have than just sharing it in the first place.

3. Try to keep things private. Consider mediation or a private judge if necessary in order to keep the details of your divorce quiet. Whatever you do, don't bad mouth the other spouse in public because nothing can damage a business reputation faster than an ugly divorce full of ugly allegations. You and your spouse will both benefit by keeping things friendly at least where other people can see you.

Ultimately, the best thing that you can do to make sure that you get through a high-asset divorce with your life and lifestyle as intact as possible is hire an attorney who is familiar with the complications that couples face when they're dividing a business they've built together. An attorney can provide more information about property settlement issues.

Source: Investopedia, "Why are high net worth divorces considered more challenging than other divorce cases?," accessed Aug. 11, 2017

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