Because Virginia has a large wealthy population, high asset divorces are common in the state. However, if you have a high median income or are a millionaire or billionaire, filing for divorce can be more complicated and often contested. It is important to understand the issues that could arise in your divorce, so you know what to expect and how to protect yourself. 

How Property Is Divided in a Divorce With Substantial Assets

High asset divorces

If you are wealthy, you may have a wide range of assets that were brought into or acquired during your marriage. In Virginia, there are three types of property, and the specific type can impact whether it must be divided in a divorce:

  • Marital property. Marital property is property acquired after the marriage or separate property brought into the marriage for the benefit of both partners. This property will be divided between the spouses in a divorce.
  • Separate property. Separate property is property that one spouse acquired before the wedding date, was given as an inheritance or gift before or during the marriage, or acquired during the marriage with the separate assets of one spouse only. This property is not considered marital property to be distributed in the divorce.
  • Part marital and separate property. Some assets may be considered part marital and part separate property because they increased in value significantly during the marriage, and the other spouse contributed to this. The marital portion of the property can be an asset to split in the divorce.

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, marital property must be divided equitably in a divorce. However, this does not necessarily mean that all property will be divided equally. Many factors will be considered such as the earning abilities of both spouses, value of the property, length of the marriage, and tax consequences. In a high asset divorce, there can be many types of marital property that will need to be valued and divided:

  • Retirement accounts
  • Marital home
  • Vacation homes and other real estate
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Bank accounts
  • Life insurance policies
  • Businesses
  • Trusts and trust income
  • Intellectual property
  • Foreign tax shelters
  • Automobiles, boats, trucks, and RVs
  • Furs and jewelry
  • Artwork
  • Antiques and collectibles

Child Support Payments in a High Asset Divorce

Both parents are required to provide for the support of their children in Virginia, and the non-custodial spouse will be ordered to pay child support in the divorce. Child support payments are calculated based on a child support schedule, which takes into account the number of children of the marriage, income of both parents, health insurance costs, and educational expenses.

The child support guidelines have calculations for higher income families that have a combined gross monthly income of up to $35,000 per month or $420,000 annually. However, determining the monthly income can be more complicated in a high asset divorce where the income may not be acquired through employment.

If the family income exceeds $35,000 per month, the child support guidelines may not determine the amount of support that must be paid. In addition, there could be additional needs of the children due to their standard of living that can be included in the child support calculation. These expenses could include:

  • Tuition at private schools
  • Expenses for hobbies, sports, or camps
  • Nanny or other child care expenses
  • College expenses

Spousal Support Awards in a Virginia Divorce

Alimony can be a major issue in a divorce with substantial income where one spouse provided all or most of the monthly income, and the payments can be substantial given the expensive lifestyle of the couple during the marriage. Many factors go into determining whether spousal support should be awarded, the monthly payment, and the length of time that the dependent spouse is entitled to it. Some of these considerations include:

  • Financial needs of both spouses
  • Couple’s standard of living during the marriage
  • Length of the marriage
  • Financial resources of both spouses
  • Earning ability of the dependent spouse
  • Age and health of the dependent spouse
  • Property division

If you are wealthy and considering filing for divorce, you need a skilled divorce attorney who will look out for your interests and ensure that your legal rights are protected. To find out about my extensive experience helping clients file for divorce and what you can expect to happen in your divorce, call my Midlothian office, or start a live chat to schedule an appointment with me.