When dividing assets in a high-asset divorce, West Virginia courts consider equitable distribution. That does not necessarily mean a 50–50 split. Courts consider a set of factors that can create a shift in the balance between spouses.
In the end, decisions will ultimately be a fair division taking into account each spouse’s past efforts and future needs.
Only marital property is divided
A high-asset divorce distribution depends on where any property lands between the spouses. There’s marital property, assets considered belonging to both spouses. And there’s separate property, assets acquired by one of the spouses before the union.
Separate property can also entail property given to a spouse during the marriage. An inheritance given to the husband or a gift of a Rolex presented to a wife by a member of her family could legally be separate property.
What is definitely on the division table in a high-asset divorce are intangibles like benefits, income and dividends. Any property or business, jewelry, stamp collection, etc., is likely up for splitting when a marriage dissolves.
Factors for property division
The court looks at monetary and non-monetary assets acquired during the marriage. It reviews property — excluding separate property — brought into the union and appreciation in value to that property.
The deliberations do include income and separate funds. The court also considers funds used to educate or train a spouse’s skill set and, conversely, lost opportunities for increasing earnings.
The court has the option to increase shares if a spouse was responsible for the depreciation of marital property. But reasons for the divorce play no part in distribution.
High-asset divorce tends to be complicated. Spouses are protective and leery of how much they can lose. There are stock options, trust funds, high-value real estate and closely-held business interests that require public unveiling. It’s critical to be aware of factors that can impact distribution.