How Can I Access My Spouse’s Trust in a High Net Worth Divorce?

Many spouses learn that they may not have access to their ex’s property in a high net worth divorce. When millions of dollars are on the line, this can be a frustrating revelation. You may be counting on these funds to support yourself for the foreseeable future. Maybe you need this money to take care of your children, or to sustain the lifestyle to which you have become accustomed. Whatever the case may be, your spouse may be relying on a variety of methods to prevent you from getting access to these assets. One of these methods involves trusts.

If you want to hold your spouse accountable and get access to the property that you are rightfully entitled to, it makes sense to get help from a qualified, experienced divorce attorney in Mecklenburg County. In the case of a high net worth divorce, you can bet that your spouse will be hiring the best lawyer available to them. You need to do the same if you want any viable chance of success.

Separate vs. Marital Property

The first thing you need to consider is the distinction between separate and marital property. In North Carolina, all assets are divided into these two categories before the process of equitable distribution begins:

  • Separate Property: Separate property includes all assets that were accumulated before the marriage began, and also things like inheritance. Separate property is not subject to equitable distribution, which means that each spouse keeps their separate property in its entirety.
  • Marital Property: Unlike separate property, marital property is subject to equitable distribution. This means that the court will divide these assets between both spouses in a fair, equitable manner. Note that equitable distribution does not necessarily mean a 50-50 split. One spouse may receive more than half of each asset, depending on what the court sees as “fair.” Marital property includes all assets that were accumulated during the marriage.
So Can I Get Access to My Spouse’s Trust?

In order to determine whether you can actually get access to your spouse’s trust, the first thing you need to consider is whether or not it is classified as marital or separate property. If the trust was established during the marriage, then it is marital property, and you stand a strong chance of getting access to those funds. If the trust was established before the marriage, it is separate property, and you will find it much more difficult to access this asset.

That being said, there are a number of strategies that you can employ to benefit from your spouse’s trust, even if it was established before the marriage contract was signed. With the help of an experienced lawyer, you may be able to convince the court that you still deserve access to these funds. Alternatively, you could argue that you are entitled to a larger share of the marital property because your spouse has considerable wealth in their trust that you cannot touch. You may also be able to receive a more favorable outcome in terms of child support or alimony.

How Was the Trust Drafted?

There may be significant “gaps” in your spouse’s trust that you can exploit. For example, if your spouse withdrew money from the trust during your marriage, those funds immediately lose the “protection” of the trust, and they are considered marital property. If your spouse sets up their trust in a way that allows you to demand distribution, that money may also be considered part of your property.

What Type of Trust Is It?

Finally, you should consider the type of trust that your spouse set up. Some trusts are seriously rock-solid, and you may have difficulty gaining access to these assets. A clear example is a domestic or foreign asset protection trust, which allows spouses to legally transfer ownership of their separate property (including their company) to the trust. This means that the court will not consider these assets as separate property. They will simply belong to another entity entirely. This could have a significant effect on the calculation of things like alimony, child support, and equitable distribution.

Get Help From a Qualified Divorce Attorney Today

If you have been searching Mecklenburg County for a reliable, qualified divorce attorney, look no further than Arnold & Smith PLLC. Our firm has a wealth of experience with high net worth divorces, and we are more than familiar with complex issues involving trusts and other forms of property. We will fight to make sure that you get access to the property you are entitled to, so give us a call as soon as possible. We have offices conveniently located in Mooresville.