High-Asset Divorce

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There are few offices in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties that have the level of technical expertise to handle high-asset or complex asset matters. From horses and cattle, to productive farmland and tightly structured business entities, to stock and dividend accounts, to REITs and Family Trusts and corporations, oil leases and water rights, highly complex assets create a world of problems for attorneys not experienced in California family law. Often, in high-asset cases, there already is a business attorney who represents the family and may attempt to assist in the division of assets. While, from a business perspective, this can make some sense, just the financial disclosures and discovery issues alone can overwhelm an attorney who is more focused on business transactions. The Family Code is its own beast and requires in-depth knowledge of its discovery and disclosure rules, how the Three Basic Property Division Rules work in various situations, ensuring proper calculation of ownership shares and valuations of real and business property.

Then there are possible Breach of Fiduciary duty claims that can lead to tens of thousands of dollars in sanctions and hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees, just because you missed a set of disclosures. The infamous Marriage of Rossi decision (a lottery winner did not tell Husband that she had hit a $1 million jackpot – the Court awarded the entire winnings to Husband 6 months after the divorce was final because she had intentionally concealed a known asset) and cases such as Marriage of Davenport (2011) 194 Cal.App.4th 1507 and In Re Marriage of Feldman ( 2007) 153 Cal.App.4th 1470 set forth large sanctions for failing to provide material disclosures.

The California legislature views your case as a general partnership dissolution, and therefore adopts relevant portions of the Corporations Code into the Family Code. Fiduciary and confidential duties abound. Constructive trust and restitution remedies with large interest calculations lurk in hidden places. The disclosure laws punish incompleteness.


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