Assuming that your wife is not involved in or employed by the business, she has no right to be on the premises. This can be enforced by court order.
Your wife or her lawyer might attempt to contact employees or customers in order to get information about the business. In most cases, this will not be allowed. Again, the judge can enter an order if necessary.
Any other action by your wife or her attorney that might disrupt the business or upset the normal business routine will not be allowed by the judge. But, there are steps that your wife’s lawyer can take to look into the business. The amount of your income from the business may be disputed, or the value of the business may be an issue. In these situations, the lawyer will have the right to gather information and documentation regarding the business.
Her lawyer will be able to obtain copies of the business records such as tax returns, income, expense and receivable ledgers, balance sheets and financial statements. The lawyer may send these documents to a forensic accountant or business evaluator for review and to prepare a report. You might hire your own accountant or evaluator to contradict the report prepared by the other side. The lawyer will probably ask you to give a deposition: a question and answer session in the lawyer’s office, with a court reporter present. You can be asked about the business and any other issues in the case. Sometimes, the judge will allow a deposition of one of the key employees of the business.
In some cases, an on-site inspection will be allowed. Photographs of the business premises and equipment can be part of this. Your lawyer will make sure that all of this information about your business is protected against disclosure to outside sources or competitors. A court order, called a protective order, will limit the people who have access to the information. Generally, only the parties, their lawyers and experts can see the information.
So, while your wife and her lawyer will be prevented from taking any action that would cause damage to the business, they can look into all aspects of it if relevant to issues in the case.
Jay A. Frank is a matrimonial practitioner with Aronberg Goldgehn in Chicago, Illinois with over 35 years of experience. He has been selected as one of the top family law attorneys in Illinois. View his Divorce Magazine profile.