High Net Worth – High Profile Divorce in San Diego

High Net Worth - High ProfileHigh net worth people are common in “America’s Finest City.”

San Diego is also known as the “Mediterranean of the United States” and is home to many high profile and high net worth couples. Just like any couples anywhere, they sometimes choose to divorce. High profile, high asset divorces are generally significantly more complex due to the complex division of property challenges and a desire to keep private, intimate details out of the limelight and public record.

High profile / high net worth couples who are divorcing can keep their personal lives and finances private and out of the public record by resolving complex property division, child support, and spousal support issues without using the public court system.

Sarah T. Schaffer, CFLS, LL.M counsels and represents clients in all matters
pertaining to high net worth divorce including:

• Complex financial scenarios
• Business ownership by one or both parties
• Business valuation & division of business assets
• Real estate matters
• Pension and retirement valuations
• Division of pension and retirement accounts
• Division of stock options, restricted stock units, deferred compensation
• Discovering hidden assets
• Uncovering intentionally inflated liabilities
• Exploring and presenting tax consequences & tax saving options
• Prenuptial agreements

If Considering Divorce and Your Situation Includes Any of the Following:

• A family-owned or closely held business
• A self-employed spouse making significant income
• Stock options or executive pay packages
• Multiple homes or real estate holdings
• A significant inheritance at some time by one or both spouses
• Assets such as art, coin / stamp collections, race cars, collectibles, memorabilia, etc.
• A prenuptial agreement

If you register a ‘YES’ to any of the above, it’s time to schedule a strategy session.

Why? – Because you have a lot to lose if your divorce settlement is improperly drafted. Often just the tax consequences of a poorly thought-out and drafted settlement agreement can more than pay for attorney fees from your annual income tax, property tax, and capital gains tax savings that –if not properly anticipated and addressed– can significantly drain away your take home income and diminish your overall net worth.

What are the Tax Consequences of a Hastily Drafted Property Division Agreement?

Consider the Tax Consequences

What are the unintended consequences of some quickly drafted divorce settlement? Some stories are legendary. Unfortunately, we see some terrible, money-draining agreements brought to our attention after the fact. Typically, there are no ‘do overs’ with the IRS or State — little that can be done to remedy a poorly conceived and executed property division portion of a concluded divorce settlement agreement.

Fortunately, if you are in the beginning stages of your divorce, you can retain the services of an experienced tax law and family law attorney who can offer you sophisticated, tax-considerate, creative solutions that will take into consideration the immediate and long-term tax consequences. Remember, your divorce settlement and property division agreement define not only next year’s tax obligations, but the coming decade, so why not examine tax-saving solutions to be dovetailed into your property division decision making? High net worth couples start with a ‘pie of assets’ to divide in two – or so they might naively think. Remember, the IRS and State tax authorities represent a powerful and clever third party wanting a 3rd slice of your ‘pie’ which you have significant control over. The tax consequences of your final property division divorce settlement agreement can be disastrous for those who choose to be naive or careless.

Should I Hire a Divorce Attorney if We Are in Basic Agreement?

Our philosophy at the Schaffer Family Law Group, is for our clients to maintain their ‘net worth pie’ as large as possible so that each party receives as sizeable a portion as possible now and into the post-divorce years without unnecessarily squandering your net worth to tax obligations that might have been avoided entirely or at least minimized as much as legally possible.


DO YOU NEED PRIVACY?Unfortunately, when a high net worth local business couple, notable local professional couple; or a celebrity couple are suspected of splitting up, or begin the process, you can find yourselves under a microscope. Reporters, social media gossip bloggers, in an attempt to sell more papers, obtain more Internet clicks, or make the evening news, will often embellished your suspected split or pending divorce with rumors of infidelity, or gossip of secret relationships. Business or political rivals might do the same simply to embarrass and diminish your character.

Can you think of celebrity or public figure divorce where you never really heard the real details of what happened: why they really divorced? Many celebrities and public officials manage to keep the often-embarrassing details of their divorce PRIVATE because their attorneys advised them to do certain things to protect their privacy. Protecting your privacy is not exclusive to celebrities, public officials or the well-connected. You can keep your intimate, sensitive family and financial details private too, and we can assist you with that.

Anyone can use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), to request copies of court documents, including divorce documents, which are a matter of public record unless sealed by a court order. The Freedom of Information Act is a law that our free and open society established to ensure that everyone, regardless of his or her wealth, celebrity or social status is treated just like anyone else.

High profile business owners, doctors, politicians, celebrities, and couples of high net worth often have a lot to lose should embarrassing or compromising intimate details of their private lives become public. When you divorce using the public Court system, your divorce documents that are often replete with scandalous details: some might be factual, but everything is out in the open! Those PUBLIC documents will be replete with accusations, allegations (true or not), infidelities, names of friends, employees, lovers, suspected lovers, your earnings, your detailed net worth, list of your assets and property, psychological assessments, 3rd party assessments of your parenting skills, details and quotes from your children, and all manner of personal and other sensitive information.

Consider Mediation or CollaborationKeep Your Private Lives Private!

Keep Your Private Details & Finances Private – Depending on your unique circumstances, our law firm may be able help you resolve complex issues of property division, spousal support, and child support without involving the Court where your lives become part of the searchable public record. We can take advantage of mediation or collaboration where, if both spouses are willing to come to certain agreements in a private setting, the details can REMAIN private. This does not preclude litigating specific isolated issues in court if the parties are absolutely deadlocked.

Divorce and Family Law Mediation Services Now Offered

In 2015, attorney Sarah T. Schaffer, CFLS, LL.M opened STS Mediation  – for a variety of reasons.

One crucial motivation was the need to address Sarah’s high-profile, high net worth clients. This venue offers agreeing couples the opportunity to have a comfortable, confidential, private venue where their private lives and intimate or sensitive details remain private.

Mediation is considered an Alternative Dispute Resolution process that many San Diego public figures, businesses owners, and others can choose as a smart and savvy alternative to public Courtroom litigation. If you are facing a family law matter, divorce, or another pending civil lawsuit where the facts, allegations, financial details —should they be accessible in the public record— be problematic, then Mediation should be considered.

Call Sarah T. Schaffer, CFLS, LL.M at (858) 509-7907 to schedule a sit-down consultation or, if circumstances necessitate, a confidential phone call to discuss your questions and concerns.

San Diego Mediation

At the Schaffer Family Law Group, APC, our attorneys and staff provide our clients expert legal services tailored to your individual needs. Call us at (858) 509-7907 to see if we are a fit for you or to schedule a strategy session.

Colleen“Amazing Attorney!

I wanted to take a moment and thank Ms. Schaffer for all that she did for me. She made a very difficult time so much easier. I was in a highly contentious, high income divorce. While Sarah was very level headed and down to business, she took great care of me. We ended up using mediation. Sarah was so professional and it worked out really well. She is kind and caring but she has that military background, so she will absolutely not be intimidated by opposing counsel. Thank you for everything you have done and I have/would highly recommend her to anyone who is considering divorce.”


Certified Family Law Specialist

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Sarah Schaffer Was Featured on Discover Rancho Santa FeOne of the few attorneys in California to hold the distinction of Certified Family Law Specialist
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