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High-asset divorces are complicated

If you are in the middle of a high-asset divorce with your spouse, you may be wishing that you had signed a prenuptial agreement prior to getting hitched. Regardless, now you and your soon-to-be ex will need to negotiate the terms of your property settlement.

Those with the most to lose in a split have the hardest time divvying up assets. For instance, consider the dilemma of Jeff Bezos — the world's richest individual — who is the chief executive officer (CEO) and founder of Amazon and the owner of The Washington Post. He not only reportedly married without a prenup, but he also lives in a community property state where his net worth of $137 billion must be divided equally.

In order to effect a fair settlement in his divorce after a quarter-century of marriage, Bezos might be forced to sell some of his Amazon stock. Such a transaction could jeopardize his majority control of the company.

But you don't have to be a billionaire to struggle with dividing complicated and illiquid assets. Before any property can be divided, it must be properly valuated. Some business assets are easier to attach value to than others, such as any publicly traded stocks. But a sell-off creates unhelpful market fluctuations that can destabilize thriving businesses.

Funding a settlement might involve pledging or selling shares outright, potentially opening the door to others taking control of the company through stock ownership.

Couples may also have high-dollar collectibles like guns, wine, antiques, cars and jewelry that may be subject to division. Marital debts must also be assigned to the spouses. It's here where some parity can often be achieved in a high-dollar split. In exchange for ownership of a valuable asset, one spouse might agree to take on a heftier share of the couple's debt load.

The complexity of the property division settlement can be minimized by working closely with your Seymore family law attorney so that all assets are assessed and appraised fairly by an independent third party.

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