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Securing your future while protecting your privacy. When the stakes are high and there is no margin for error, hiring skilled family lawyers with a track record of success on high net worth separations is imperative.

  • What is a high net worth separation and divorce?

  • Why are high net worth separations and divorces more challenging?

  • Is there an alternative to going to court (litigation)?

  • How are a high net worth spouse’s financial needs assessed?

  • Why is MacLean Family Law best equipped to help me with my high net worth separation and divorce?

What is a high net worth separation and divorce?

High net worth family law separations occur between couples whose combined total net worth is significant. Our founder Lorne MacLean, QC was just named as one of the TOP 25 CANADIAN LAWYERS in part based on his record-setting multimillion-dollar property awards and his 7 figure spousal and child support wins for Vancouver high net worth clients. MacLean and his team handle multimillion-dollar cases daily.

MacLean Law’s high net worth family law team acts nationally across Canada with 8 offices including Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary amongst others. High net worth separations often involve unique and complex issues. MacLean Law has an enviable record of setting Canadian record spousal and child support awards. See Lorne MacLean QC’s win in D v D. as well as his precedent setting Court of Appeal wins in cases such as Li v. Rao

Firstly, defining an individual’s total wealth, which can include a business, professional practice, major real estate holdings, pension, stocks and other assets, can be challenging. And, if a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is in place, these will need to be reviewed. Child support, and in some cases, spousal support is determined based on not just the personal tax return income, making it essential to assess the spouses’ true incomes from companies, professional practices, stock options, capital gains etc, often with a fine-tooth comb.

When couples have complex personal and commercial financial portfolios, it’s vital to ensure an accurate valuation of family property and debts, both at the start and end of the relationship. These portfolios could include:

  • Property;
  • Business interests and Capital dividend, RDTOH and shareholder’s loan accounts;
  • Stock options;
  • Retirement accounts;
  • Pensions;
  • Executive bonus packages;
  • Books of business;
  • Active and passive asset depreciation for excluded and family property calculations.

Our services to high net worth clients include marriage agreements, divorce/separation and property division, and finding the right jointly-appointed financial experts which may include real estate appraisers, business valuators, art appraisers, and forensic accountants, to ensure fair valuations and the best results.

Why are high net worth separations and divorces more challenging?

Couples who have amassed wealth and built family businesses often have more complex financial holdings to separate. The process takes time to valuate and may require several industry-specific experts. Hiring our 6-time award-winning high net worth family law and divorce lawyers is wise when high stakes are involved. Lorne MacLean, QC obtains record-high support judgments, routinely deals with high net worth international divorce cases, and has been named a top 25 Canadian lawyer by Canadian Lawyer magazine. He has been named a top divorce lawyer for Vancouver, Surrey, and Richmond and his firm has been named top family law firm for 6 years and the last 5 years in a row.

We resolve a wide range of key issues in high net worth divorce and family separation cases, which include:

  • Thorough opening and closing inventory and valuation of family assets and family property;
  • Excluded property calculations and tracing of excluded property and family assets;
  • International family property division issues;
  • Estate freezes, family trusts, corporate rollovers, butterfly transactions, impact on valuation of different share classes;
  • Income taxes, capital gains taxes, RRSP’s and corporate tax implications related to valuation and division;
  • Valuation of business entities, professional practices, partnerships, or other interests;
  • Retirement as it affects the payment of spousal and child support;
  • Valuation of pensions and retirement or executive compensation packages;
  • Analysis of trust funds and beneficial interests and valuations;
  • Division of family debts;
  • The impact of remarriage on spousal support;
  • The need for consideration of inheritance planning for children on remarriage;
  • Exceptions to child and spousal support for high income earners;
  • Self sufficiency objectives for partners leaving long marriages or relationships;
  • How excluded property including pre-relationship property, gift and inheritances are affected by joint registration or ownership of same;
  • Premarital and cohabitation agreement drafting and negotiation.

Is there an alternative to going to court (litigation)?

Discrete negotiations are key in high net worth family law cases. Ensure your family business, professional practice and ventures continue to prosper without interference of divorce and court proceedings. We encourage clients to actively participate in these processes to make solid, long-term decisions, maximize privacy and minimize costs.

Mediation, arbitration and collaborative separation processes are viable alternatives to high net worth divorce and separation litigation. These processes focus on obtaining a timely and fair resolution while keeping personal divorce details out of the courts and the media.

How are a high net worth spouse’s financial needs assessed?

The BC and Alberta courts have very broad discretion when assessing what a spouse’s financial needs are. In high net worth cases, where the family has enjoyed a very high standard of living and there are substantial financial resources, the parties’ needs will be computed in a more generous way than in an ordinary divorce case. This can mean that the court determines a spouse ‘needs’ very large sums, which may run into the many millions or even billions of dollars.

At MacLean Law, we regularly deal with high net worth cases and international financial cases involving significant incomes and large asset bases and have set records for child support, spousal support, the size of property division, and worldwide preservation orders. We understand how to best deal with arguments concerning needs, both for the wealth-generator and the economically weaker spouse.

See our record-breaking spousal and child support win of $116,000 a month after 22 million of family property was obtained for our client in D v D

Why is MacLean Family Law best equipped to help me with my high net worth separation and divorce?

Obtaining massive wins in high net worth separation and divorce matters. Our wins are amongst the highest in the nation, including lump-sum support in the millions and special costs record-setting awards of up to $1.5 million. MacLean Law brings together many years of family law practice and applies this experience to family law disputes. Our unique team approach brings a wealth of knowledge in law, finance, and international matters to the table. Our ultimate goal is to help you retain as much financial stability as possible following the breakdown of a relationship. We also empathetically guide–and tenaciously advocate for you to effectively resolve related family matters.

Lorne MacLean, QC has been named one of Canada’s Top 25 lawyers by Canadian lawyer magazine

Through our comprehensive family law services, wide-ranging expertise, in-depth legal knowledge, the latest in innovative family law practices, responsive support, and relentless commitment to open communication, we’re dedicated to moving you forward to your most positive possible family outcomes. Our priority is safeguarding your interests.

MacLean Law has successfully negotiated or litigated many family law files with record-setting judgments. Recent noteworthy judgments:

  • Devathasan v. Devathasan, 2017 BCSC 1010
    MacLean Law set the record for combined interim spousal and child support in a high profile international high net worth divorce with $100,000 a month awarded and $50 million of international assets frozen.

  • Devathasan v Devathasan 2019 BCSC 661
  • MacLean Law’s Lorne MacLean, QC and Fraser MacLean also succeeded in a record-setting family law financial and special costs award. International divorce and family law trial award with wife obtaining 20 million of family property, $100,000 a month spousal, $16,000 child support for 1 child, 6 million retroactive, lump-sum support & 100% special costs in the amount of 1.5 Million.

  • Read Ian Mulgrew’s Vancouver Sun Article on MacLean Law’s Record-Setting Highest combined child and spousal support award.
  • Baryla v. Baryla, 2019 BCCA 22
    Appellant successfully challenged the amount of a compensation payment, the failure to deal with distributive taxes, and the awarding of spousal support after an equal division of assets. Held, appeal allowed, new trial ordered. It was necessary for the court below to determine whether the registration of title in joint tenancy was an inter vivos gift to the husband, and to account for distributive taxes upon the division of the assets. The question of spousal support after an equal division of assets must consider whether an award would amount to “double-dipping”.
  • For additional MacLean Law successful court cases please refer to Wins.