Virginia is one of the wealthiest states in America, according to U.S. News & World Report1. With median annual income of $66,262, the state enjoys a prime perch among the Top 10, at #8. Median income is far more important a measure than average income, since it represents the exact middle of earners; half earn less, half earn more. Many of those high asset individuals go through divorce each year, and when they do, their lives get complicated, quickly.
High Asset Divorce
Virginia is home to five billionaires making Forbes Magazine’s annual list, including known names like candy heiress Jacqueline Mars and SC Johnson heiress Winnie Johnson-Marquart. These two women together are worth more than $30 billion.
Yet we need not look to the lofty heights of billionaires to find high asset individuals in the Commonwealth. According to NetState.com, in 2006 Virginia was also the comfortable home to some 159,395 millionaires.
If our state enjoys a lot of billionaires and millionaires giving the state a privileged position for high median income, it also has plenty of earners in the top 1 percent. CNBC puts Virginia’s 1 percenters at the threshold income level of $406,412 annually, but those high asset individuals have average annual earnings of $987,607. With such incomes, careful money management during a marriage can produce ample material for a lengthy and tangled divorce settlement.
High Asset Individuals’ Portfolio Complexity
Due to the complexity of portfolios held by high asset individuals in Virginia, a divorce may require the services of more than a single attorney for each party. Other professionals may be enlisted to process and organize the information vital to a fair and equitable property settlement:
- Forensic accountants
- Tax attorneys
- Private investigators
- International law attorneys
- Real estate lawyers
She’s Well Heeled
Rarely do both individuals in a Virginia divorce both come from moneyed families. More likely, one of you brought significant assets to the marriage, or generated them during the marriage. With no discredit to you, your wife may be the high asset individual. Your task, shared by your local attorney and a team of support professionals, is to find all the assets. With high asset divorce, this gets extremely complicated and may take the team into interesting areas:
- Retirement accounts
- Stocks and bonds
- Restricted Stock Units (RSUs)
- Stock options
- Business ownership
- Trust income
- Capital gains
- Stock dividends
- Foreign tax shelters
- Intellectual property
- Real estate
- Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
- Vacation homes
- Third, fourth and fifth homes
- Automobiles, ATVs, RVs, motorcycles, trucks, and watercraft
- Furs, vintage automobiles, antiques and collectibles
Since high asset individuals often spend a lot of money during a marriage to hire people to find creative ways to squirrel away money, a divorcing Virginia man must be even more creative in uncovering the assets built up during the marriage. While you have no entitlement to assets brought to the marriage as personal property, you are entitled to a share of any property (real or otherwise) earned during the marriage, or that produced earnings for you both even if she originally owned them.
You’re Well Heeled
If in your situation you came to the marriage as a high earner, and she had little to bring to the marriage other than her beauty, personality, poise, emotional support and childbearing abilities, you may wish to shelter as many of your assets from her as possible.
She, though, is entitled to a fair (not necessarily 50/50 split) share of assets procured during your marriage. For all the reasons mentioned above, she is viewed by Virginia as having supported your success during your married lives. This may mean she is entitled to a portion of stock options you were offered during your time together. She may get half of the profits from sales of your several homes.
She will have her own attorney (and possibly a team of professionals like you will have), so allow them to earn their fees. Reaching a final, mutually agreeable number may actually prove impossible, since fluctuations in commodities, stocks and mutual funds may expand and contract your fortune by the minute.
High Asset Divorce with Children
Children add nearly infinitely to the complexities of high-asset divorce. Virginia is very explicit in child support figures, with calculations built into Code of Virginia § 20-108.2 for monthly gross incomes above $35,000 (which generates annual gross income of $420,000, just barely edging into the 1 percent).
If you have one child, you will pay 2.6 percent of your monthly gross income to your ex-wife for child support ($910 for $35,000/month), climbing to 5.0 percent if you and she produced six scions ($1750 for $35,000/month).
Should you fall statistically into Virginia’s median annual income for the 1 percenters, you will give $49,380.35 to your ex for your six kids; $25,677.78 if you have only one child.
Let The Firm For Men Protect Your Rights
For high asset Virginia men facing divorce, The Firm For Men is a telephone call away at 757-383-9184, or one click away online. Our firm is experienced in all aspects of divorce for men across all economic levels. We can protect you, preserve your rights and your capital, and safeguard you from years of bitter, unpleasant publicity and courtroom drama. With offices in Virginia Beach and Newport News, we’re proud to serve Hampton Roads and beyond. Give us a call today.