If your divorce involves the division of complex assets like a business, art or car collection, jewelry, multiple properties and/or real estate in other states or countries, you should first look for a lawyer with experience in high net worth divorces. In the absence of a pre-nuptial agreement assigning ownership of certain assets to one spouse, they can be considered marital property and added to the list of marital assets that must be divided.
The first step is to have a professional appraisal done. It is not unusual, especially in contentious splits, for both sides to obtain separate appraisals from a professional, especially if the assets are believed to be highly valuable. Complex assets are not easily valuated, so it will probably become necessary for you to engage the services of certain experts — accountants, business appraisers, etc. — to arrive at a fair value.
One of the most complex assets to value in a divorce is a business with shared ownership between the spouses. A business started during a marriage is considered marital property, which means that it is owned by both spouses and will be divided if they divorce. If the business began before the marriage but grew substantially during the marriage, its appreciation in value is also considered marital property and will be treated as an asset in a divorce.
If you started a company prior to your marriage, there may be portions of the business that could be considered separate property and not subject to division in a divorce. You will need to provide documentation that shows:
- When you started the business
- The value of the business prior to the marriage
- The value of the business during the marriage
- How much you invested in the business prior to the marriage
- How much your spouse was involved in the business
If you must split your business in a divorce and your ex is agreeable to a buy-out, arrange for installment payments. A long-term payment plan will be less disruptive to the business and your ex will get the benefit of interest paid as part of an installment plan.
If you are willing to give up other marital assets, you may be able to retain ownership of your business in its entirety. However, this is a decision that should be made with the help of your attorney and a financial advisor, keeping your own long-term financial goals in mind.
You can rely on Murphy & Cistaro to skillfully negotiate and mediate your issues to a satisfactory resolution. Should the need arise, you can also count on our experience for being aggressive litigators if the situation calls for a more assertive response. Contact us today for your free consultation.