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If you don't have $5 million, prepare for a contentious divorce

As you file for divorce, you ask yourself whether it's going to be amicable or contentious. You just do not know how your spouse is going to react. Are you going to fight over your assets in court for months on end, or are you going to split things up quickly and go your separate ways?

One thing that plays a massive role is exactly how much money you have or at least what your assets are worth. Studies have discovered that having over $1 million but less than $5 million increases the odds that the divorce will become contentious, while higher totals -- over $5 million -- mean that an amicable split is more likely.

A lot of factors influence this, but one key factor is that people who are almost in the upper class want to fight to protect social standing.

"There is a thick line between those who are wealthy enough to not fight over money and people who have money, but not substantial wealth," one expert noted as the reports came out. "To be almost rich is to be part of America's fighting class, a group that — despite profound privilege — seem particularly prone to serious family conflict."

In short, social standing feels a bit more fragile to those who do not yet have the assets to be set for life. This leads to conflict as you and your spouse both instinctively want to protect yourselves. When you reach the level where you will both have security regardless of how assets get divided, there is less need to fight over what you have.

Whether you think that your divorce will be contentious, it is important to know exactly what legal steps you need to take when significant assets are involved.

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