Divorce is never an easy decision, but when wealth enters the equation, it adds layers of complexity that can make the process more challenging. High-net-worth individuals face unique issues and considerations when seeking to dissolve their marriages. Nearly all divorces are resolved through negotiations, and negotiations are especially important when a couple is wealthy.

Legal Representation

The more the two of you have, the more is at stake in a divorce. High-net-worth divorces require specialized legal representation and the use of outside experts. You rely on other professionals to run your business or manage your wealth. It only makes sense to retain a Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., attorney to protect your interests during this critical time in your life. We will help you negotiate the best resolution possible for you and your family.

Equitable Asset Division

One of the most significant challenges in a high-net-worth divorce is the division of assets. The greater the assets and the more complex they are, the more difficult it can be to unwind the financial relationship between the two of you. Once we get all the information about the assets you hold, we can begin to negotiate a fair and reasonable division that will work for both parties.

Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements are legal documents specifying the division of assets if the couple divorces. These agreements are especially useful when one or both parties have substantial wealth. If the two of you signed an agreement, we can review it.

If it is properly written and executed, it is binding. All that the agreement covers cannot be disputed or litigated during the divorce. That is good if the agreement is favorable to you, not so much if it is not.

Spousal Support

Depending on the circumstances, wealthy individuals may be required to pay substantial spousal support (alimony) to their former spouse. The marriage’s length, the income disparity between the parties, and the lifestyle to which the spouses are accustomed play a role in determining the amount and duration of spousal support.

Negotiating this aspect can be contentious, and often, the party potentially paying the support may be able to lessen or eliminate it if the other party receives certain assets or other issues are negotiated in their favor.

Business Interests

For those owning businesses, divorce can significantly impact a company’s operation and ownership. It is vital to consider the implications of a divorce on the business, including issues like stock ownership, control, and valuation. Depending on which side you are on, you want to protect your business interests and ensure its continuity, or you want your fair and equitable share of the company. Negotiations concerning the ownership of a family business can become emotionally charged, but it is something we have successfully handled many times.

Take the Best Approach

Litigation involving high-net-worth individuals can be very complex, time-consuming, and expensive. Those with more resources can spend more on litigation, but that is not necessarily a good idea.

In addition to spending hard-earned family wealth in the courtroom, divorce trials are open to the public. Whatever “dirty laundry” aired at trial can become public knowledge. You also lose control of the divorce’s outcome when it is put into the hands of a judge or jury.

Reaching a divorce settlement is like negotiating a business deal. It is all about costs, benefits, risks, and how to best manage them. Your divorce will be resolved one way or another. If the parties are reasonable, common sense will dictate the give and take between the parties. Once both parties know all the facts about your assets and other relevant issues, it is best to start negotiations sooner rather than later, because they could take a long time.

If your spouse is unreasonable when negotiating or sees the divorce as a way to get “payback,” litigation may be inevitable. Whatever path your case takes, Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., attorneys will protect your interests and defend your rights.

Get the Help You Need from an Attorney You Can Trust 

If you are thinking about getting divorced or you have decided it is the right choice for you, call us at (215) 608-1867 or schedule a consultation online now. No matter your income or assets, you can start a new chapter in your life. We can discuss your situation over the phone, via a teleconference, or meet in our Langhorne or Doylestown office. 

We think of a new year as a re-birth, an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and change our lives. That could be changing jobs, living healthier, going on that vacation you dream of, or ending your dysfunctional marriage. If you have had enough of marriage and decide it is time to move on, Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., is here to help.

Holidays are stressful when a marriage is on the verge of breaking up, especially if you have kids. You feel the need to “keep up appearances” to family and friends. You want your kids to have a positive holiday season, not one filled with thoughts of parents going their own ways. That is all perfectly reasonable, and it may be easier to do knowing that you will not need to continue your charade next year, so make the most of it.

Talk to Your Spouse

If you have not discussed a divorce with your spouse, unless you are in an abusive relationship and fear for your safety, you should. Ideally, you will be on the same page and can limit disagreements. When each spouse is reasonable and respectful, the process can go much faster, with less stress and expense. It is also far easier on children when the relationship ends on a positive (or at least not negative) note.

Contact Our Office

Holidays and obligations in November and December cut into the time and energy needed to prepare for a divorce. No matter how hectic your schedule, take the time to call our office and schedule a consultation. We can discuss your situation, what you need to do to prepare to get divorced, and how we can help. Together, we can “game plan” how to accomplish your goal of getting divorced.

Get Organized

Whether you start this year or after the holidays, collect and organize critical financial information and documents, including those concerning:

  • Mortgages
  • Home equity loans or lines of credit
  • Credit scores and reports
  • Debts such as credit cards, student and vehicle loans
  • Property ownership
  • Investments
  • Retirement savings
  • Bills from private schools or colleges showing tuition costs
  • Medical records if one or both of you have conditions limiting your income potential
  • Business ownership and finances

Starting new bank accounts just for your use is a good idea. You should also set up a new email account and rent a post office box so you can communicate with us and others without your spouse being able to monitor your communications.

Be Prepared if You Think the Divorce Will Not Go Smoothly

If you fear your spouse will not end the marriage without a financial or emotional fight, you will have to be mentally and financially prepared. Long, drawn-out proceedings cost both spouses more time, energy, and money. Mediation may be an effective way to pull a spouse out of their anger and selfishness and make them realize the best resolution is one both parties can accept. Divorce is about starting new lives, not inflicting pain and revenge.

Get Emotional Help If You Need It

A divorce can come with a lot of emotional baggage. You may be angry or disappointed in yourself or your spouse. You may blame yourself for the end of what you imagined would be a fairy tale marriage. You may fear being alone in the future. It is very common for those undergoing a divorce to get help from healthcare professionals. You should explore this option if you feel you may need help.

Family and friends can be excellent sources of support – or not. They may tell you to stay together “for the children.” Their divorce may have involved very different issues, and their ex may have a different personality than your spouse, so what they say may be of limited use. People near you may greatly help you or give you bad advice. You must separate the good from the bad.

If It Is Time for You to Start a New Life, We Can Help  

To learn more about divorce, the legal process, or to discuss legal representation, call Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., at (215) 752-6200 or book a consultation online.  

If your co-parent makes damaging, false statements about you and you suffer some legally recognized harm under Pennsylvania law, you may have a defamation case. If these statements are made to or around your child and alienate them from you, a faster resolution may be through family court.

Parental Alienation

If your co-parent is making defamatory statements about you to your child, or they hear them when they are made to others, this may be part of an effort to seek vengeance against you or to punish you by poisoning your relationship with your child. They may try to toy with the child’s feelings for you. They want to manipulate them to the point it negatively affects or breaks up their relationship with you.

These parental alienation efforts need not be intentional or directed at the child. Their criticism of you may be so constant and open that your child cannot help but hear and think about it. They may conclude you are such a bad person that they do not want to be around you.

If this happens, your child may need counseling to separate the fact that you love and care about them from the fiction that you are a terrible person. This can also be a basis to ask a court to end or limit the other parent’s visitation or custody rights.

Pennsylvania law makes putting both parents in a child’s life a priority, but there are limits. Two factors a judge should consider when making a custody decision are whether:

  • One parent is trying to turn the child against the other
  • A parent encourages and enables the child’s frequent and continuing contact with the other

If you discuss this problem with your co-parent and they deny it happens (but your child says it does) or tell you they will say whatever they want, you should contact our office. If we cannot convince them (directly or through their attorney) to stop, taking this to court and forcing them to understand that their slander is endangering their visitation or custody rights may make them change their ways.

Making Defamatory Statements to Others

If these remarks are not made to or around your child but are made to others, depending on the facts of the case, under Pennsylvania statute, you may have grounds for a defamation case against the co-parent. Defamation that is spoken (to neighbors, coaches, and teachers, for example) is considered slander, and when it is written (like in social media posts), it is libel.

The statements must tend to harm your reputation and lower your position in your community. They may also discourage others from associating or dealing with you. Libel would blacken your reputation and expose you to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule. A court would view these statements in the context of your relationship.

It is not enough if these statements embarrass, annoy, or anger you. You would have to show the court real and tangible injuries, such as distress, depression, or anxiety. Losing a job or customers if you own a business can also show the statements harmed you.

Your co-parent may have defenses to your defamation claims, including a denial that the statements were made, or that they were made but are truthful or they are the opinion of the co-parent. If you file a claim for libel, you will need to prove the statements were made negligently or maliciously to be awarded damages.

What Should I Do If My Child Starts Turning Against Me? 

If you think you may be dealing with parental alienation or believe your co-parent’s statements have gone too far, please call Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., at (215) 752-6200.

If you are thinking, “I cannot afford to get divorced,” we have an option that may work for you. 

If your divorce is relatively simple, our flat fee is a good option for divorcing couples. If you have no children or few assets, a simple divorce may be your best choice. This may also work if you have worked out child custody or alimony issues and a fair distribution of debts and assets through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. If complications arise, we will bill you hourly if they require more time and effort to resolve than we expected. 

The Benefits of a Flat Fee Charge 

There are many advantages to this approach beyond saving money: 

  • Cost Predictability: One of the most significant benefits of a flat fee is that you know what to expect. We agree on a specific price for our services upfront, allowing you to budget effectively and avoid unexpected legal costs.  
  • No Hourly Billing Surprises: In traditional hourly billing, you might receive invoices with charges for every phone call, email, or meeting with an attorney. Flat fee arrangements eliminate this uncertainty, as the total cost is set from the outset. 
  • Reduced Conflicts Over Billing: We avoid billing disputes, which can cause conflicts between clients and their attorneys in hourly billing arrangements. 
  • Focus on Resolution: With a flat fee arrangement, we are focused on ending your marriage as quickly and as efficiently as possible, preventing expensive, contentious, and lengthy legal battles. 
  • Reduced Financial Stress: Divorce can be financially challenging, and flat fee arrangements can reduce the stress associated with the process. You can focus on your future and family instead of monitoring your legal expenses. 
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing the cost of your legal representation upfront can provide peace of mind during a stressful divorce process. It allows you to concentrate on other aspects of your life and reduces the anxiety associated with ongoing billing concerns. 
  • Alignment of Interests: Flat fee arrangements align everyone’s interests. Spouses benefit from efficient case management and a swift resolution, which can result in a more cooperative working relationship. 
  • Tailored Services: We will tailor our services to your specific needs within our agreed-upon fee structure. 
  • Encourages Open Communication: Flat fee arrangements can foster better, more open communication between clients and our attorneys. Clients are more likely to seek advice and discuss their concerns without worrying about hourly charges 

Your divorce may still be affordable if your situation is too complex for a flat fee arrangement. Our firm works with a third-party company that may be able to finance our legal services. If you are interested in this, you will need to complete an application, and we will submit it to the company. If your case is complete, we also may help you with a payment plan to pay your balance. 

Call for a Confidential Consultation

Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., can provide dedicated, caring advice and counsel if you are considering getting divorced or have already decided that one is right for you. For a confidential consultation with a Doylestown divorce lawyer at Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., call (215) 752-6200 or send us an email. We can meet you in our Doylestown or Langhorne office or speak on the phone about the divorce process and its cost.