Q. What Do I Need To Know About Business Ownership and Divorce Proceedings in California
A. If you are preparing to file for a divorce, or a domestic partnership dissolution,
it is important to consult with an experienced San Diego divorce lawyer before filing your paperwork. If you are a business owner and you are concerned that the business can be controlled by your ex, only a qualified California family law firm will be able to help you sort through the complexities of the process.
It Has to Be Determined if the Business is Community or Separate Property
In the state of California, all community property of the marriage or domestic partnership is divided up between the two parties in a marriage settlement agreement. Not all property owned by one party is considered community property. Assets that were inherited by one spouse or assets that were earned prior to marriage are considered separate property. If you owned a thriving business prior to getting married, the business is your separate property and will be treated as such in a divorce proceeding.
You and Your Spouse Started the Business Together
If you and your spouse started the business together, you will have to decide if you want to be the one to continue running the business. As a piece of community property, both parties are entitled to half of the value of the property. If you are both on the registration paperwork, and you both have a say in how the business is run, you will have to buy out your spouse in order to retain control of the business.
The Business Is a Family Business You Inherited from Your Parents
If the business you are concerned about is a business that you inherited from your parents, your ex is not entitled to half of the business assets. If you have been wise, and you have kept your business completely separate from your marriage, then the business you inherited is yours to keep. If you added your spouse to the business incorporation paperwork, gave your spouse a title, and allowed your spouse to have control in the business proceedings, they may be entitled to some of the assets. If the business grew as a direct result of your spouse’s involvement, it is likely that this will be taken into consideration.
As with any divorce that involves a business, your business value will have to be determined by a third party. An accountant or valuation team will consult all of your business records and determine what your business is worth at this time. Future earnings are always considered when valuation is determined, and your current success in your business can result in a higher payout to your former spouse.
When you are concerned that your spouse is going to be able to control your business assets, it is best to get prepared before filing for your divorce. Encourage your spouse to find other employment and remove responsibilities from your spouse if at all possible. Gather together information that proves you are the primary business owner and allow a third party to come in and assess your business for the court system.
Consult a Divorce Attorney about Your Business As Soon As Possible
The quickest way out of a complicated divorce proceeding is to offer your spouse fair financial compensation for their part in establishing and growing the business you have. Consult with an experienced divorce attorney today to see what your rights are.