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Getting a share of income still unpaid but earned during marriage

Celebrity divorces often seem completely unrealistic when compared with the lifestyles and needs of more average households. Child support for a single month might exceed the income of another family for an entire year.

However, given that many of these divorces take place in California, they can certainly provide insight into how the court handles certain complicated financial situations and complex assets. Although the results of one case don’t necessarily have implications on another divorce, they can help demonstrate common practices and rulings by the courts.

For example, a recent high-profile celebrity divorce with an outcome that included high levels of child support and spousal support, as well as an order for the wife to receive a portion of the celebrity husband’s future income, could give you an idea about what will happen in your divorce if your spouse is an executive or someone with deferred compensation, like restricted stock units (RSUs).

The courts care about when you earn the income, not when you receive it

While it may be true that the average film star has higher income and greater overall assets than many workers and business owners in California, the way that the courts handle celebrity income and assets can give you an idea of your rights and options in a more typical divorce.

In a recent ruling, the California family courts determined that a high-earning celebrity spouse who had filmed several movies prior to the divorce would need to share the income from those movies with their spouse after the divorce. This decision included a film that was filmed during their separation but prior to the end of their divorce.

You also have a right to request a share of your spouse’s deferred compensation or future income if they earned that money during your marriage. Although it can be difficult to put a price on such assets and deferred income, doing so will help you fight for a better, fairer outcome. So long as the judge agrees that the income is community property, you may have a claim to a portion of it.

Complex financial circumstances demand careful planning

The more unusual the assets you and your spouse share, the more difficult it can be to advocate for a fair outcome in a pending divorce.

Anyone in a high asset or high-profile marriage will likely benefit from having individual representation during divorce proceedings. Assistance with planning regarding the division of marital assets can be invaluable when you have a situation involving unusual, complex or hard-to-access assets.

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