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Self-employed spouses may face complex asset division in divorce

Massachusetts film and television fans are likely well aware of the marital discord between high-profile couple Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. After six years of marriage, Moore made public her intention to end her relationship with Kutcher in 2011. She has only recently filed the actual paperwork for divorce, however, and reports suggest that a dispute over asset division has prevented the couple from reaching a settlement.

Ashton Kutcher is the top grossing television actor in the business today, and when not starring in the series "Two and a Half Men," he has become involved in a number of high-tech business endeavors. Demi Moore's Hollywood star may have been at its peak in earlier decades, with hit films like "Ghost" and "Indecent Proposal," but the actress is still worth an estimated $150 million - including a reported $90 million from her 2000 divorce settlement with Bruce Willis. With Kutcher's estimated $140 million, the star couple's combined assets may reach almost $300 million.

When one or both spouses in a high asset divorce are self-employed, particularly with diverse business interests, a picture of very complex asset division emerges. How issues like property division and alimony will play out in court greatly depends on the value of each partner's work or income, and it can be challenging to establish this value when dealing with a partner who is self-employed. Expert testimony may be called for in order to produce a fair valuation and seek out any hidden assets.

It should be clear that divorcing Massachusetts residents need not be in the same tax bracket as Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher to take these matters seriously. Consulting with a legal professional may be the first step to ensuring fair property division in any complex, high asset divorce.

Source: New York Post, "Demi strikes back at Ashton," March 6, 2013

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