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High asset divorce may benefit from judicial intervention

In a high net worth divorce case, accounting for assets and determining ownership can be tricky. This is one of the main reasons why the court often participates in establishing the guidelines and procedures for dividing assets. A tentative ruling in the high net worth divorce case of a car dealer and his wife are a good example of when judicial intervention is helpful and necessary in dividing assets.

In this case there were several assets in question, including a bank account that was jointly accessed and a home that the couple shared during their brief, eight month marriage. The wife contended that the house was community property since it was purchased during the marriage and that, as a result, she was entitled to half of the amount from the sale of the house. To which the husband protested by saying that, according to their prenuptial agreement, the wife is entitled to a set, lesser amount under the prenuptial agreement. Moreover, the husband alleged that the wife has already withdrawn a large amount of money from their joint account, and deposited it in her private account and said that withdrawal should count against her total settlement in the divorce.

While ruling on the case, the judge ordered the wife to pay back the amount that was withdrawn from the account. The judge also ordered that the house must be sold. From the amount acquired from the sale, the husband can recover what the wife owes him as well as the mortgage amount and the amount paid for the improvement of the house. The rest of the money should be divided equally.

However, the judge restricted the recovery of the money to the sale of the house. If the sale of the house amounts to less than the mortgage amount or the amount the husband owes to his wife, the husband cannot ask for further reimbursements.

The facts of this case show the complexities of a high asset divorce and how each party's version of the agreements that they made before and during the marriage can be different. This is just one reason why it's so important to carefully document any financial agreements made before or during a marriage.

Source: KABC-TV Los Angeles, "Judge rules on Cal Worthington divorce division of assets" Dec. 11, 2012

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