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Top priorities in a high-asset divorce

Divorce comes with a long to-do list in general, making it hard to know what to prioritize. The answer depends on your situation, as the divorce process looks different for every couple.

If you have multiple complex assets, focus on these areas of divorce.

Financial security

Most states practice equitable distribution in divorce, meaning each spouse gets a fair but not necessarily equal amount of marital property. In California, however, you are entitled to one-half of all marital assets (total, not individually) unless you agree to otherwise in a prenup or postnup or during divorce proceedings.

To ensure you receive your full share, all assets must be on the table, including pension plans, insurance policies, businesses and tax refunds. Debt undergoes the same treatment, so be aware of any debts your spouse acquired during the marriage, as you can be liable for them until the divorce is final.

Also, talk to your attorney about the likelihood of spousal support, because this will affect your financial security as well.

Estate planning

Those with numerous assets usually have complex estate plans. You want to update these as soon as possible to prevent your ex from inheriting property if you unexpectedly pass or from having power of attorney if you become incapacitated. Consider the tax implications of dividing retirement accounts and changing wills, trusts and other estate plans.

Children

High-asset divorce tends to be the most contentious, and high conflict negatively impacts children. This is true even if they are adults. In fact, if your children are no longer young, you may try to involve them in the drama more than you normally would. Vent instead to a trusted friend or professional and be civil to your ex around the children. Make all divorce decisions in the best interest of your children, no matter their age, and consider effects on grandchildren if you have any.

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