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Complex Financial Matters Archives

Do I Have To Give My Spouse Part Of My Business In Our Divorce?

asset division, business planning, divorce and assetsWhen spouses are going through a divorce, one thing that always must be addressed is property division. However, when one or both spouses own a business, or even have an interest in a business, property division can be much more complicated. A common question spouses ask is: Do I have to give my spouse part of my business in our divorce? In Massachusetts, the short answer is No, but the answer isn’t that simple.


Under the property division statute in Massachusetts, Massachusetts General Laws chapter 208, section 34, the Probate and Family Court must consider the following factors in dividing the marital estate:


length of the marriage, the conduct of the parties during the marriage, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties, the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income, and the amount and duration of alimony, if any, awarded under sections 48 to 55, inclusive. In fixing the nature and value of the property … Read More »

Does My Spouse Have an Interest in My Business When We Divorce?

divorce and assets Divorce and business, divorce and business partnersIn a divorce, money can be one of the biggest issues spouses fight over. However, when one (or both) spouses own a business, this can be an even more complicated (and sometimes uglier) fight. A common question business owners ask when they are going through a divorce is whether their spouse has an interest in the business. The short answer is yes, but it’s not as straightforward as you think.


Under Massachusetts law, all assets owned by spouses, regardless of whether or not they are joint assets, are marital assets. This can include a family owned business, even if only one spouse has an interest in that business. That means the business is a marital asset that is subject to division in equitable distribution. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the non-business owner spouse will end up owning the business or having a financial stake in the business through the divorce. Massachusetts General Laws chapter 208, section 34 outlines factors the Probate and Family Court must consider in the division of marital assets. … Read More »

Managing High Asset Divorces in Massachusetts

high net worth

All divorces can be stressful and important to spouses facing a divorce. However, handling divorces with a high asset value has some additional inherent complexities that not all spouses, or even all attorneys, are aware of.

When addressing high asset divorces, there are complicated issues that have to be addressed within alimony, property division, taxes, life insurance, and even child support. In handling such divorces, it often requires the attorney to review a large volume of documentation, particularly financial documents. Because these documents can be highly technical, a knowledgeable divorce attorney typically takes a “team” approach to such divorces, and includes financial professionals in the management of such a divorce. These financial professionals can include a business appraiser, tax professional or accountant, financial planner, forensic economist, and/or certified divorce financial analyst (also known as a CDFA). It is important that your attorney already have a team in place that they have been working with for years.

These professionals can help your attorney work through some very complicated financial issues relating to the divorce, and oftentimes these professionals are also knowledgeable of the law associated with the financial aspects of … Read More »

How to Protect Your Company From Your Business Partner’s Divorce

Before you formed your business partnership, did you vet your partners’ marriages along with their bank statements? You may not consider it until divorce proceedings are underway, but your partners’ spouses likely own a part of your company, whether you want them to or not.

business and divorceIn my day job as a financial strategist specializing in complicated (and often highly contentious) divorces, I rarely see a case where the day-to-day operations, valuation and ownership structure of a business is not affected in some way by a breakup. If your partner’s soon-to-be ex receives a part of the business in the divorce settlement, you’ll gain a new, unwelcome partner who now has a voice in how your business operates and, by extension, can impact your own net worth.

Michael Lees, a business attorney and partner at Solomon Ward Seidenwurm & Smith in San Diego, recommends including a contingency for divorce in your company’s setup. “Start with a well-drafted partnership, ownership or shareholder agreement that requires a partner’s spouse to sell his or her awarded interest back to the company (or to its co-owners) in … Read More »

Getting The Most From A High-Dollar Divorce

Divorce is almost always an emotionally taxing experience. Divorces that involve millions (or billions) of dollars have an added level of intensity and drama. It’s not uncommon for the parties in a divorce to act in irrational ways that may be counter to their own best interests or to make simple financial errors that can cost them dearly in the calculation of a settlement.

One way to minimize these types of mistakes is to involve a valuation expert, an objective professional hired to determine accurate assessments of a couple’s holdings based on conventionally accepted metrics and methodologies. Valuation experts are most commonly, but not always, affiliated with accounting firms and carry special designations. While these credentialed experts are a good choice for valuing a lawyer’s partnership interest, a privately held company or a divorcing client’s stake in her family business, more specialized knowledge may be required to properly handle investment-related interests.

“When assets such as pre-IPO stock or concentrated equity positions are split between a CEO and his soon-to-be ex-wife, for example, all the contingencies around distributions, transfers of ownership and sales should be … Read More »

Uncovering Hidden Assets in Divorce Litigation

If you’re considering hiding assets in your divorce, you might want to think twice. Alternatively, if you’re concerned your spouse may be hiding assets from you know that you have options.

For better or worse, the reality is when marriage gets tough people often hide money. Regardless of their wedding vows, many couples experience such breakdown in their marriages that they rationalize and justify building a secret financial stash in anticipation of divorce. Why should they have to divide their marital assets or community property in the event of a divorce? One good reason is because the law says so.

Often such funds are surreptitiously held offshore or transferred to a family member or friend. Other strategies involve safe-deposit boxes, secret stock brokerage accounts, investment accounts and so on. In today’s highly advanced technological world most records have gone electronic, therefore hiding large sums of money is no longer as easy as it may have once been.

The Electronic Trail

If you’re suspicious of your spouse hiding assets, dig around a little bit to find clues in social media, your browser’s history and so … Read More »

What a Divorce or Family Law Attorney Can Do That a Spouse or Parent Can’t Do on Their Own

When a spouse is going through a divorce, or a parent is going through a custody or child support battle, it can be a stressful time in that person’s life. Navigating through the family court process can be confusing under the best of circumstances. If the case is very contentious, then this only makes the circumstances worse.

A spouse or parent may think that since the case is about his or her life, who would be better to represent that spouse or parent but himself or herself. However, when going through such a delicate time, in which there are rigid standards established by the law and the court, it is better for that spouse or parent to engage the assistance of a knowledgeable family law attorney to help that spouse or parent through the process.

But what can a family law attorney do that the spouse or parent can’t do on their own?

1. Remove the emotion from the case. An attorney can approach the case with the emotion and stress removed. An attorney is a neutral person coming into the case. … Read More »

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