“I’m not certain my lawyer has a good handle on my divorce finances. My spouse owns a business and property; I’m not convinced I’m getting my fair share. What should I do?”
You should ask your lawyer what value your spouse has attributed to his business and real estate interests. Then ask how they were determined. What action you should take depends on the answer to this last question.
Business and real estate interests should be valued/appraised by individuals who are members of a recognized, professional organization. This should ensure that a thorough review of the relevant valuation/appraisal issues has been addressed and that you and your lawyer are aware of them.
If your lawyer has not spoken to you about seeking this kind of advice in regards to your divorce finances then you should ask why and be satisfied with the response you receive. You may want to obtain the view of your own accountant or another person who is financially informed and with whom you feel comfortable.
There are other income tax issues that require attention and professional assistance in this regard are necessary so that you receive the amount due to you in a way that minimizes the income tax consequences.
If you are uncertain as to the answers you receive in connection with the above, you may want to consider visiting another lawyer for a second opinion.
Andrew J. Freedman CA, CBV, ASA is a member of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Business Valuators and a senior member of the American Society of Appraisers. He is a frequent speaker regarding the business valuation and income tax issues arising from separation and divorce and has written extensively on these subjects. He is a senior partner at Cole & Partners in Toronto.