High-Income Divorce

Divorce is hardly ever an “easy” affair for both parties. For couples with a high net worth or income, it’s nearly impossible. Couples who have amassed significant wealth tend to have more contentious legal battles. It’s common for both parties to have issues with property division, hidden assets and spousal or child support. 

High net worth couples who wish to divorce may need a lot of help. It’s common to involve additional parties such as financial planners or certified public accountants to help disseminate all property. Some high-income divorces even need extra investigations to ensure that all assets are identified and divided. Regardless of the situation, it’s important that you contact an experienced divorce attorney before moving further. 

Lawyer for High Net Worth Divorce in Seattle, WA

Divorce proceedings are always stressful for everyone involved. However, if you or your partner have a high net worth, it can be a nightmare. It’s important that you have a plan to tackle any potential issues in your divorce. Don’t go into this battle alone. Call Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson. 

The divorce attorneys at have years of experience representing high net worth clients. We understand that ending a marriage can be an arduous and painful process. We want to ease that in any way we can through excellent legal service. Call today at (206) 712-2756 to schedule a free consultation. 

Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson practices law throughout the greater King County area including Bellevue, Issaquah, Redmond, Redmond, and Seattle.  

Overview of High-Income Divorces in Washington


Property Division in a High-Income Divorce

The first question on your mind is probably; “Wait, will my ex-partner get my property?” Washington is a community property state, meaning that all property or debt accumulated during a marriage is presumed to belong to both parties.

Property that is acquired before the marriage, received as a gift or inheritance, or is compensation from a personal injury settlement is considered separate property

Washington law states that property division in a divorce must be “just and equitable.” It’s important to understand that equitable doesn’t mean equal. Your property will be divided by the courts, based on its determination of what is fair. This is especially pertinent in a high-income divorce.

Couples who have large income gaps are likely to have issues with property division. If your ex-partner makes significantly less, he or she could walk away with a larger portion of your community property. If your ex-partner has a high net worth, you could be entitled to a large property division to maintain your lifestyle. No matter the circumstances, the court will distribute your property based on the following;

  • The extent and nature of your community property;
  • The extent and nature of your separate property;
  • The length of the marriage or domestic partnership;
  • The economic status of both parties; and
  • If a spouse or domestic partner desires the right to live in the family home and is spending the majority of the time with shared children.

Fault is not a factor in divorce proceedings when dividing property. Any bad behavior such as infidelity or careless spending won’t go into property division deliberation. However, if the behavior was intended to and resulted in waste or destruction of property it could be considered a factor. For example, if a spouse gambled away community property it could be a factor when the court distributes property.   


Hidden Assets in a High Net Worth Divorce

In some cases, one spouse may attempt to conceal certain assets or mislead the courts on how they were acquired. In a divorce both parties are obligated to uncover all shared assets for property division. Spouses who choose to hide or under-report their income may face penalties.

Listed below are some common ways a person may hide their assets.

  • Unreported Income – In some cases, a spouse may lie about their income. Many have reported their spouses lying about their paycheck, the amount of profit their business is making or failing to tell their ex-partners about any additional means of income. Couples are required to disclose their true income to the court in a divorce.

  • Expensive Purchases – One spouse may start making expensive purchases for themselves, friends, family or a new significant other. In this situation it’s common for the spouse to intentionally report the items under their actual value. This would mean he or she would be able to pocket the difference once the assets are divided.

  • False Payments – Spouses seeking divorce with shared bank accounts should be wary. In some divorce proceedings one spouse will report seeing suspicious “invoices” or reoccurring charges for unknown services. It’s possible that these charges are actually collusion between the other spouse and another person. Another person may hold the money until the divorce proceedings are over. Meaning that the other spouse will be able to collect shared money, hide it and then ultimately keep it.

  • Tax Overpayments – Some spouses overpay their taxes intentionally, which would leave a positive balance with the IRS. The IRS could roll over this positive balance for years and the overpaying spouse may receive large tax returns or be able to avoid paying expensive tax sums. 

Alimony in a High-Income Divorce

Washington law classifies alimony as spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is any money paid by one spouse to the other for various reasons. Spousal maintenance can be paid in a lump sum, monthly basis or combination of the two. The alimony amount and length for divorced couples depend on the court’s final decision. It can be ordered for a few months, a few years or indefinitely. 

The court must consider all relevant factors when deliberating on alimony including:

  • The financial ability of both spouses;
  • What separate property and community property was appropriated to each spouse;
  • The time needed to acquire sufficient training or education for one spouse to gain employment that is appropriate for his or her skills;
  • The couple’s standard of living during the marriage;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • The age, financial obligations and physical or emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance; and
  • The financial ability of the spouse who may pay maintenance to meet both their needs and the spousal support payments.

Additional Resources

Family Law Handbook – Visit the official website of the Washington’s courts to access the Family Law Handbook. Find more information about prenuptial agreements, dividing debt, and shared parenting plans for divorced parents.

Washington Divorce Proceedings – Visit the official website of Washington State Legislature to find more information about the divorce chapter of the Revised Code of Washington. Access the statutes to learn more about mediation proceedings, temporary maintenance and domestic violence issues with divorce proceedings.


Lawyer for High Net Worth Divorce in King County

Are you seeking to divorce your spouse? Do you or your spouse have a high net worth or income? It’s extremely important that you gain legal representation now. You could lose or gain assets depending on your legal counsel. Don’t wait another moment. Call the attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson. 

Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson are experienced in representing clients with all backgrounds. We can help you understand every phase of your divorce case. In addition, our attorneys will investigate if needed to uncover any hidden assets. Don’t wait another moment and call (206) 712-2756. 

The attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson assists clients throughout the greater Seattle area and surrounding communities including Burien, Bellevue, Issaquah and Redmond.


This article was last updated on December 18, 2018.

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