St. Louis Family Law Blog March 5, 2018

What is a "High Net Worth" Divorce?

In this day of internet marketing, it seems every law office that handles dissolution of marriage cases has begun to add the terms "high net worth divorce" or "high asset divorce" to their web pages and list of services provided. "Search Engine Optimization Experts" are now hired to embed these terms in law firm web sites to draw traffic to them. In truth, there are no special laws pertaining to "high asset divorces" or "high net worth divorce". The fact is that the terms are likely used by many in hopes of simply attracting clients who have the capacity to pay for legal representation in divorce.

However, some cases do involve large or complex estates, high incomes, substantial financial net worth, or a complex estate plan. It is in this respect that divorce among the affluent is different from more conventional cases. These matters involve the existence and value of a family business or professional practice, or a large company, whether closely held or publicly traded. They may involve very complex executive compensation plans and awards of stock, options, restricted units, deferred compensation plans (both qualified and non-qualified), trading windows, buy-sell agreements, ownership of intellectual property, analysis of patent and royalty agreements, and every other unique element of complex commercial pursuits one can imagine. Such cases involve instruments of inheritance and descent, such as dynasty and generation-skipping trusts, and unique estate tax mitigation planning.

Such cases are not for the inexperienced practitioner, for they involve unique questions of tax law, securities law, trust and estate law, commercial instruments, finance and accounting, and complicated compensation plan documents.

Knowledge of these topics is acquired over years of exposure to them, involvement in studying them, negotiating complex agreements involving them, and trying cases in which expert testimony is routinely necessary – not by simply listing the topic as an area of practice under the "services" tab of any website. Cases of this magnitude – and the complications presented by them – are discussed and analyzed in national continuing legal education programs and journals, and not in local professional newsletters and lunchtime CLE programs.

We have substantial experience in discreetly and assertively representing the affluent in high net worth or substantial asset and income divorce cases. Our lawyers have written scholarly articles in national legal journals and lectured in statewide and national forums on business valuation, taxation, cash flow and income, hidden asset discovery, and other aspects of complex divorce practice. We've represented CEOs and high-level executives in publicly traded companies and closely held corporations. Of particular interest to us are cases involving professional practices or similar entrepreneurial enterprises. We've frequently studied them, lectured and written about them, and attended high-level national educational programs involving them.

Please feel welcome to contact us, in complete confidence, to discuss your particular circumstances. Please examine our website to see what we've written and lectured on. When we say we handle "high net worth divorce" and "high asset cases", we can back it up.

We look forward to assisting you through this process and pledge to use our reservoir of experience in these matters to your benefit.

Cary J. Mogerman

Cary J. Mogerman is one of the leading divorce and family law attorneys in St. Louis. The central focus of his practice is on complex divorce cases involving business interests, professional practices, substantial assets, or child custody litigation. He has been listed in Naifeh and Smith, "The Best Lawyers in America," since 1997, and as a Super Lawyer, "Top 50, St Louis," and "Top 100, Missouri," since 2006.

Contacting Zerman Mogerman LLC