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Should high-asset divorces include estate planning?

Although a couple may desire a quick and easy divorce, a recent article reminds of us the importance of taking a thorough inventory of issues and assets when a substantial amount of property is at stake. Indeed, a high-asset divorce can pose several challenges.

For starters, Massachusetts state law contemplates alimony or child support minimums, rather than maximums. In the case of a high-asset divorce, determining the best interest of a child with ample support resources may pose questions that can only be resolved by an exercise of the court's discretion. 

To avoid unfair results, our family law firm recommends utilizing expert testimony that can properly value assets and establish fair support guidelines for the other spouse and/or any children. As with any divorce, the factor of physical custody may impact support calculations. However, there may be more creative solutions than simply setting a monthly support amount that is well in excess of mandatory minimums. Such a solution might involve a college fund, an emergency health care fund, or other approaches.

In that regard, our law firm also focuses on estate planning. In a high asset divorce, it may be important to plan for children's inheritances when going through a divorce. We can also help couples in a second divorce preserve any intended bequests for children from a first marriage.

A property division settlement stemming from a divorce can change the lives of former spouses and their children for many years. For that reason, it's important to get it right the first time around. Property division can be negotiated. To avoid an unfair exercise of the court's discretion, a client should enlist the advocacy skills of an experienced attorney. 

Source: Business Insider, "How divorces among the rich differ from middle class divorces," Jacqueline Newman, June 8, 2015

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