How to divorce a millionaire

Originally published 12/30/08
How do you divorce a rich man? I guess the same way you divorce a poor man. But maybe with a few extra steps. First, you have to circumnavigate the prenuptial agreement. Use all your forces, including centrifugal force to blow it apart so that it is as if you never signed it in the first place.
Second, get the core assets accounted for. If you don’t know what he has, get an accountant or forensics asset searcher to help you. The accountant can give you the tax returns if you filed taxes jointly. The forensics searcher can search his background using social security numbers, name of businesses, and other personal info to find information on him.
If he works for himself, it may not be as easy to track what he makes as if he works for a company which would have his employment records including salary, bonuses, stock option plans, and other perks on file. You want to look at trade slips, brokerage account statements going back at least five years, bank statements, pensions and profit sharing accounts. And whatever else is germane to your marriage and situation. 
Millionaires who work for themselves can manipulate these things a lot easier. They can understate income on their taxes. They can not pay themselves salaries even though there’s significant cash on the corporate books. They can set things up into irrevocable trusts.
Take millionaire lawyers, for example. It is very easy for them to conceal their true net worth, especially personal injury lawyers and other lawyers that get paid on a contingency basis.  So you want an evaluation of any work in progress for any case that is hanging out there that was commenced during the marriage. Similarly, if you were married to a plastic surgeon who also happens to be a millionaire, you have to get his practice appraised. The value of the practice is much more than what happens to be in the bank at the moment. You and your divorce team will have to do police work.
So it is definitely a more challenging thing to divorce a millionaire/rich man who works for himself. but you have to be very enterprising otherwise you will not get your fair share.
Millionaires are likely going to have issues with gift and estate taxes. And other taxes that could affect you. So get a tax specialist.
Health and life insurance may be something you want to negotiate that your spouse pay for after a divorce. The law does not mandate either. But if your husband is rich and he can afford to pay, under some circumstances he can be ordered to pay.
Third, love. What’s love got to do with it? Nothing, really. But, if he loves you and you live in New York, he will not give you the divorce so easily. You have to prove grounds. Do you have a legal basis for wanting to divorce your rich husband? If so, be prepared to prove it.