Guide: High-Net-Worth Divorce Lawyer | Adviser Investments

Finding the Right High-Net-Worth Divorce Lawyer for You: Costs & Traits

Divorce is emotionally and financially difficult.

For high-asset divorces, the strain is compounded due to the complexity and makeup of your household’s assets.

A great high-net-worth divorce lawyer is skilled at establishing a smooth divorce process, and getting you a fair share of your household’s assets. Also, the best of the best divorce lawyers are astute at divorce court proceedings, in case you and your spouse can’t reach an agreement and need a judge’s ruling.

In today’s post, we highlight key traits skilled divorce lawyers possess and touch upon how much divorce lawyers cost.

Tip: For straightforward financial advice, click here to explore and sign up for more of our expertise on a variety of topics in various formats.

Finding a Good Divorce Attorney

How do you know if someone is the “best” at their profession?

The short answer is, you don’t. However, below we explore common characteristics among the most experienced and successful divorce attorneys, and recommend questions to explore their competence and interest in your divorce case.

Availability: One of the key questions to ask any legal specialist before hiring them is: Do you have availability (and interest) in managing my divorce case?

A good divorce attorney will be busy, particularly due to the high rate of gray divorces (couples in their mid-50s and older). Nevertheless, a good attorney is organized and surrounded by competent, in-house support, freeing them to manage the key components of your divorce.

Still, there are circumstances that can distract and minimize an attorney’s availability, like family or personal illness. It’s best to find this out up front.

Also confirm who your main contact will be: Your attorney or their assistant or paralegal?

Tip: Expedite your divorce. Start with our Divorce Checklist & Financial Solutions for High-Net-Worth Marriages.

Communication: Good attorneys are responsive.

A non-responsive attorney will only add to your stress; therefore, it’s important to ask: “How quickly do you respond to calls and emails?”

It’s also critical you like the attorney’s communication style. Consider the attorney’s approach and tone. Does it make you comfortable? You’ll be working with your divorce attorney for months, possibly years, so you want this to be someone with whom you’re at ease.

Remember, you’re seeking a professional who is clear and concise, one who can also write a compelling argument on your behalf.

If you leave an initial introduction meeting feeling anxious or confused, the attorney is probably not a good fit.

Community: When exploring a professional’s character, one place to start is to review their community service involvement. Are they giving back to the community?

Volunteering is a sign that the individual has empathy and compassion. The best attorney will be one who possesses these traits and, therefore, intuitively makes others comfortable.

Experience: It’s important to work with an attorney who has handled multiple high-net-worth divorces.

There are thousands of divorce attorneys, but not all understand financial complexities, like business partnerships, executive compensation, family trusts, international investments, prenuptial agreements and the resulting tax implications.

To gauge your prospective attorney’s experience, ask the following questions:

How many high-net-worth divorces have you managed?

What were the households’ net worth?

What past cases have surprised you and why?

What experts do you have longstanding relationships with, (e.g., appraisers, business valuation experts, forensic accountants, etc.)?

What courtroom experience do you have? What were the outcomes?

Listening: Is the divorce lawyer a good listener? Divorce is difficult. It’s imperative you feel heard to move smoothly through this process. Ask yourself the following when evaluating an attorney’s listening skills.

Are they:

Asking questions about your concerns and goals?

Interrupting you mid-sentence?

Paying attention or distracted, (e.g., on their phone)?

Tip: For more divorce financial tips, read our post: Dealing With Divorce—Taking the First Financial Steps

Track Record: The first place to start when trying to find the best high-net-worth-divorce attorney is by Googling them. Do you like the news you’re seeing?

Also, check with the lawyer’s state bar association. You’ll discover if their legal license is active and in good standing. For some bar associations, you must call for this information.

How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer Cost?

The cost of divorce varies. In general, most couples can easily spend $10,000 each on attorneys to finalize their divorce.

A high-net-worth divorce is more costly, given the additional time needed for experts to wade through the couple’s complex assets.

Costs increase if you disagree about the division of assets and if you have minor children and can’t settle on a custody schedule.

In general, every objection you pursue equates to an increase in attorney or expert fees. For more information regarding average divorce costs, FindLaw® provides a comprehensive chart of divorce filing fees and typical attorney fees by state.

Next Steps

We encourage you to consult with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® Practitioner (CDFA®). This practitioner is trained to help you value and divide your property, including retirement assets, pensions, executive bonuses, and help you determine spousal and child support.

They can also help you navigate challenging divorce tax complications and can provide expert witness testimony.

We’ve worked with many high-net-worth divorce attorneys over the years and are happy to provide an introduction.

If you’re contemplating a high-asset divorce and need help navigating the financial complexities, contact Adviser Investments anytime for assistance. We pride ourselves on being The Planner You Can Talk To.

Related Podcast

Divorce is not the end – It’s a new beginning

Our financial planners discuss their experiences helping clients navigate the challenges of divorce and adjust to new financial realities during our podcast: Dealing With Divorce—How to Financially Survive (and Thrive).

This practical, wide-ranging conversation uses real-world examples to shed light on three focal themes, including having a budget and asking yourself: What do I own and how do I protect myself and my family?

If you’re a breadwinner, co-breadwinner or non-earner in the throes of a high-net-worth divorce and need help navigating the financial complexities, contact Adviser Investments anytime for assistance. We pride ourselves on being The Planner You Can Talk To.

Tax and legal information contained herein is general in nature, is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or tax advice.  Personalized tax advice and tax return preparation is available through a separate, written engagement agreement with Adviser Investments Tax Solutions. We do not provide legal advice. Always consult a licensed attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation.

Our statements and opinions are subject to change without notice.  All investments carry risk of loss and there is no guarantee that investment objectives will be achieved.

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