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Considerations for wealthy women in a high asset divorce

The earning power and wealth of Canadian women is higher than ever, but what does that mean when it comes to marriage and divorce? A reported $2.2 trillion in assets are under the control of Canadian women at present, a number expected to double within the decade. There are several things wealthy women in Alberta should consider when tying and untying the knot in order to protect themselves in a high asset divorce.

A prenuptial agreement is a common consideration for wealthy women prior to marriage. It is important for spouses to agree on terms that align with the family structure they expect to create, and that the agreement is fair. For example, if both spouses intend to work, it can be considered fair for them to each keep their earnings separate. However, if only one will be working, this arrangement might be ruled as unfair in the case of divorce. Prenuptial agreements can also be used to protect family inheritances, businesses and gifts.

Under the law, women and men are considered equal when it comes to child custody, support and other obligations. This means that, if the woman is the main earner in the home, she could be expected to pay spousal and child support. Wealthier women who are not the breadwinner per se, such as older women leaving a long-term marriage where there are many joint assets, can be on the other side of these discussions. In either case, clarity about finances and strong advice are important to protect the wives in these situations.

Divorce with any amount of assets is challenging, but high asset divorce can bring particular complexities. This can be compounded if there is no prenuptial agreement, or if the agreement in existence is called into question by one of the parties. A good first step in these situations is to seek advice from an experienced Alberta family lawyer.

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