Those who have started or purchased a business know how much hard work, time and money go into creating, developing and maintaining a successful business. Business owners have specific interests when approaching a divorce case in San Diego. What are some things to consider if you wish to protect and keep a business during a San Diego divorce?
First, a word of caution. Do not attempt to fix the books or take actions to artificially or genuinely impact the performance of a business or the income you earn from it in the months leading up to a divorce. Spouses in California have a substantial legal obligation known as a fiduciary duty to each other. Any effort to mislead your spouse or the Court about the value of the business itself or the income you earn can result in genuine penalties, and in worst cases the loss of the business itself. It is hard to explain when tax records and the books contradict the information provided to a spouse during disclosures or to the Court itself.
If you want to keep a business during a San Diego divorce begin with the perspective of your spouse’s involvement in and potential ownership of the business. Did you start or acquire the company prior to the marriage? If so, and you haven’t used any marital funds to support the company, it is likely to be considered to be a separate asset outside of property division in the divorce.
If your business interest was acquired at any time from the date of the marriage to the date of separation at least some portion of your equity in the company, if not all of it will be considered to be community property. Community property will be divided between the parties during the process of a divorce.
How active of a role did your spouse have in the company? If the spouse was an active contributor to the company for some period of time it can be more challenging to assert the business is to be yours. However, if your spouse had limited to no involvement in the company it is usually more of a matter of offsetting their marital interest in the business as part of the divorce process.
Another crucial factor when working to keep a business during a San Diego divorce is valuation. Your company has a financial value and the higher that value the more a business owner must provide to offset the interests of their spouse. Therefore, the spouse of a business owner has an interest in ensuring the valuation of the company is as high as possible.
Finally, make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of the genuine value of all other assets for you and your spouse, including retirement vehicles. A business owner who is working to keep a business during a San Diego divorce will need to know when to make a stand, and when give a little to get a little. This is why it is so important to be represented by experienced and legally skilled Certified Family Law Specialists at Burke & Domercq. We have extensive experience in divorce cases involving a business or professional practice. We provide sound counsel and work with our clients to accomplish their goals and objectives, including the best strategies when you wish to keep a business during a San Diego divorce.