Divorce can be a contentious, time-consuming and often complex process. High net worth divorces compound those complexities. With more assets to divide, it can take more time to reach a fair and reasonable divorce settlement. (If you have a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement, that can help simplify the process.)

With regard to division of property and asset protection, you should first determine what property was owned prior to the marriage and what assets were accumulated jointly during the marriage. After you identify marital property such as a family business, it must be valued before an equitable distribution can occur.

In a high net worth divorce, it can become even more complicated to distinguish between marital property and separate property. This can be very difficult if separate property was commingled with community property.

When enough assets are involved, the California courts will often consider unique solutions. Such high asset divorces may involve increased child support or alimony. In addition to child support, property division and spousal support issues, there may be a need to examine offshore bank accounts, 401(k) accounts, investments, stock options, real estate and company assets.

When enough assets are at stake, it may be necessary to hire a forensic accountant, in addition to other financial professionals, to help value pension plans, stocks, homes, investments and businesses, in addition to tracing separate property assets. Forensic accountants can also help ensure the other spouse isn't concealing assets. (In many cases spouses transfer personal or business assets to deflate the value of marital property.)

High net worth divorces require considerable care to protect financial exposure and protect business and personal assets. Reviewing and organizing your relevant financial information will help your attorney provide the necessary expertise to protect those assets.

Even in a high asset divorce, extended litigation can be avoided if parties can communicate in good faith and agree on a fair division of property, although even mediation will require an experienced divorce attorney to help negotiate an asset division settlement.