How divorces among the rich differ from middle class divorces
Originally Published by Jacqueline Newman on Business Insider, June 8, 2015
Money makes divorce look a little different.
- It is riskier to litigate high income cases in Court because there is less guidance from the law. Much of the statutory law applies to middle to low income families so when you have high income cases, the judges are given great discretion when they structure awards. This leads to inconsistency and therefore great risks as one judge may greatly differ from another.
- More often than not, high net worth cases have more complex assets to value and distribute. This complexity may involve many financial experts valuing assets that have a great degree of subjectivity (such as business appraisals), which can lead to a battle of the experts and more litigation.
- While I often say that no one can emotionally afford litigation and even if technically one can financially afford it, no one likes to pay attorneys. Having to pay legal fees can be a great motivator to parties to settle their case. However, if there are financial means to wage a legal battle vs. a situation where there are not, it can make a huge difference in how the case plays out.
- Child support for high income cases can be very difficult to calculate as the amount is often determined by the “needs” of the child vs. a formulaic approach in middle income cases. Determining the “needs” of a 5 year old becomes a battle amongst parents. Does Sophie need a matching black pony at Mommy’s house as well as Daddy’s house?
- Sometimes high net worth cases can actually be easier to settle because if there is enough money that everyone can continue to live their lifestyles together or separate, it makes the split an easier pill to swallow. As it costs more to support two households than one, middle income families can feel the financial strain in a divorce more than wealthier families because their day-to-day lifestyles can change. This makes the settlement more difficult.