Tech entrepreneurs and the risk of high asset divorce

Anyone can experience the end of a marriage, no matter their age, level of education, occupation or wealth. For some people, however, the complexity of a high asset divorce can be greater than many others experience. One industry in which divorces can become very challenging is in the tech fields. That is especially true for those in Florida who achieve high levels of success early on in their careers.

Divorce attorneys who work with tech entrepreneurs report that many of their clients marry young, after one or both parties have already earned a significant volume of wealth. It is not uncommon for such clients to head into marriage with impressive stock portfolios and hefty retirement savings, even before they reach the age of 30. If the proper precautions are not taken, those individuals stand to lose a great deal if their union should end in divorce.

One challenge for those within the tech fields is the difficulty in placing a value on certain intangible assets. Matters such as patents, trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and other types of intellectual property can be difficult to value. That can make it hard to draft a comprehensive prenuptial agreement, since part of the process of creating a prenup involves full disclosure of the value of currently held assets.

This does not mean that those in the tech field or with entrepreneurial aspirations should avoid seeking some form of protection. It is possible to create a prenuptial agreement that can address intellectual property. Doing so, however, requires a degree of attention and effort. The best way to properly protect these types of assets is by working with a Florida attorney who is skilled in the area of high asset divorce and the valuation of intellectual property.

Source: bizjournals.com, “Why Silicon Valley divorces can be especially pricey splits“, Gina Hall, April 20, 2017

Teamwork tips for divorce

When you and your spouse prepare to end your marriage, it may seem natural to view divorce as a practical and symbolic end to the team you have been. However, throughout the legal process, you are still a team with the same objectives, and if you can maintain this outlook, both of you may benefit substantially.

Here are some suggestions for resolving conflicts smoothly during divorce.

Listen actively

It is easy to fall into the trap of formulating an answer to another person while he or she is still speaking, but if you do this, you will not really understand what your spouse is saying. Instead, try to listen without forming an opinion. When you understand your spouse’s goals, thoughts and feelings, it will be easier for you to respond with empathy.

Look for win-win outcomes

Compromising may seem like losing if you are giving up the things you really want, so you and your spouse need to search for ways to resolve every conflict fairly. Approach negotiations with compassion and respect to help identify equitable solutions.

Empower yourself

Having control in a conflict does not mean manipulating your spouse, but taking responsibility for your own behaviors. Do your part to keep the peace, and trust your spouse to do the same. Look at each conflict as a lesson to learn rather than a fight to win.

Stay positive

During the emotional turmoil of the end of the relationship, self-pity, anger and other negative responses often create a downward spiral that is difficult to defeat. One method to counter these emotions is to make a list of things you are grateful for each day.

Choose the right attorney

If you and your spouse each hire a lawyer focused on battling things out in court, you may not have the encouragement you need to negotiate your settlement without conflict. Those who offer collaborative and cooperative divorce are much more likely to help you resolve your disputes without a fight.

 

During high asset divorce, stress should be managed

A great deal of research has been directed at examining the way that stress affects the human mind and body. Researchers agree that going through a significantly stressful event, such as the death of a loved one or a high asset divorce, can cause a drastic spike in stress levels. That can have a number of negative impacts on daily function, which is why it is so important for Florida residents to take steps to control stress.

Recent research suggests that chronic stress can cause premature aging, even on a cellular level. In addition, high levels of stress can lead to difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite and problems connecting with others in social settings. All of these things can make it hard to enjoy life, and also hard to concentrate on the task at hand, which is critical to moving through a high asset divorce.

With the right degree of motivation and effort, spouses can take action to lower their stress levels and control the way that they react to stress triggers. A great place to begin is to stay on top of divorce developments and to take an active role in the process of ending the marriage. It can be tempting to sit back and allow one’s attorney to handle the majority of the process, but doing so can cause spouses to feel out of control and lead to increased levels of divorce-related anxiety.

Spouses may also want to consider working with a therapist as they move through the divorce process. A therapist can provide much-needed support throughout the process, as well as suggest appropriate coping mechanisms to help reduce stress. A high asset divorce is a stressful event in a Florida resident’s life, but it is important to realize that it is a process with a distinct beginning, middle and end. It will pass, and maintaining solid physical and mental health throughout the process will make it easier to enjoy what lies ahead.

Source: Forbes, “How Resilience To Stress Can Help You Live Longer And Healthier“, Paula Davis-Laack, April 10, 2017

Addressing credit card debt during property division

Plenty of Florida couples place the bulk of their divorce efforts on dividing marital wealth, and rightfully so. The outcome of property division negotiations can have a lasting impact on both spouses for many years to come. However, it is a mistake to overlook the importance of addressing issues of debt during the larger property division process.

In general, debt that is brought into a marriage is considered the separate responsibility of each spouse during a divorce. Debt that is taken on during the marriage is usually considered to belong to both spouses, even if the debt was incurred in a way that benefited only one party. Spouses can negotiate how to divide that debt, just as they negotiate the division of assets. However, reaching an agreement about who will be responsible for which accounts is only the beginning.

Creditors are not bound by a divorce settlement. They have the right to pursue any party listed on an account for repayment, regardless of what the agreement states. That means that a spouse who is freed from responsibility in the divorce agreement could still be subjected to collection efforts if his or her name remains on the account and the other party fails to pay. Credit score damage is also a real concern, as is debt that has a negative impact on one’s debt-to-income ratio.

The only way to remove these risks is to either pay off individual debts entirely during the divorce process, or have the account placed in the sole name of the responsible party. In cases in which one spouse agrees to take responsibility for a large debt, the best way for the other person listed on that account to protect his or her own interests is to negotiate a property division settlement that requires that other assets are used to pay off the account in full. This can help many Florida residents sleep better at night, knowing that they have been fully absolved of any responsibility associated with old debts.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Divorce and Credit Card Debt“, Justine Borer, April 3, 2017

During property division, be sure to review the QDRO

Many Florida residents are aware of the importance of addressing retirement savings during the course of a divorce. In fact, these assets are among the most valuable for many couples, and care should be taken to maximize the distribution of retirement funds when a marriage comes to an end. Once property division negotiations have concluded, it is important to carefully review the documentation involved in the division of retirement assets.

One of the most important documents is known as a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO. This is the document that outlines how retirement assets will be distributed between spouses. Errors and omissions on the QDRO can lead to significant legal and financial problems down the road.

One way to avoid a negative outcome is to hire the services of Certified Divorce Financial Analyst to review the QDRO. This is a professional who is trained in all aspects of divorce finances, and who is familiar with the ins and outs of the QDRO. The analyst can also assist in outlining the tax ramifications of various choices, and creating a post-divorce budget.

Many Florida spouses prefer to think about the professionals who will handle their divorce as part of a “divorce team.” A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst can play an important role on that team. For those who are concerned about the initial cost of hiring an additional team member, it may be helpful to understand that the potential savings can far outweigh the initial investment. There is also a value that comes with peace of mind during property division negotiations.

Source: kiplinger.com, “QDRO: Critical Letters in a Divorce Case“, Andrew McNair, March 24, 2017