High-net-worth couples frequently are business owners or investors in a business or run a professional practice such as a medical practice together. When divorcing spouses own and operate a business together, then the business will probably require a formal evaluation and report. Professionals such as forensic accountants and actuarial experts are used to determine the fair market value of the business.
A thorough inspection of the business site, records, books, general ledgers, payroll registers, receivables, machinery, inventory, real estate, client lists, partnership interests, enterprise, and goodwill will be done. In New Jersey, the division of business value in divorce is rarely 50/50 unless the business was started after marriage and both spouses are equally involved. It is important to understand that business involvement can take any form. For example, if you were the principle of the business and your spouse did not work in the business at all, you may believe that you’re entitled to virtually all of the business value. But if your spouse took on a lion’s share of responsibilities in the home to permit your heavy involvement in the business, then your spouse was contributing actively to the growth of the business as well, albeit indirectly, and likely has a claim.
In these more complex matters, your attorney can work with your financial advisor or your tax professional to help you develop the right plan with your spouse, such as a buyout, sale, annuitized settlement, or other distributive arrangement.
Bari Zell Weinberger is the owner and managing partner of Weinberger Law Group in New Jersey. She is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney.