Divorcing a small business owner – general consideration
We have already discussed on this website how businesses are divided in a divorce. However, there are several significant issues that arise when divorcing a small business owner.
Divorcing a small business owner in California can be a complex process that requires careful consideration of various factors. Here are some general considerations:
- Valuation of the Business: The first step in a divorce involving a small business owner is to determine the value of the business. This can be a complicated process, especially if the business is a closely held corporation or partnership. The value of the business will play a significant role in determining the division of assets.
- Community Property: California is a community property state, which means that property acquired during the marriage is generally considered to be owned equally by both spouses. This includes the business and any assets it may hold. In a divorce, community property is divided equally between the spouses, which means that both spouses may have a claim to the business.
- Separate Property: If the business was started before the marriage, or if it was inherited or gifted to one spouse during the marriage, it may be considered separate property with some portion of community property prorated according to the Pereira van camp formula
- Spousal Support: If one spouse owns a small business, the other spouse may be entitled to spousal support or alimony. The amount of spousal support will depend on a variety of factors, including the income and expenses of both spouses and the standard of living established during the marriage.
- Business Operations: During a divorce, it’s important to consider how the business will continue to operate. If both spouses are involved in the business, they will need to decide whether they can continue to work together or whether one spouse will need to buy out the other’s interest in the business.
- Tax Implications: Divorce can have significant tax implications, especially when it comes to dividing assets like a small business. It’s important to work with a tax professional to understand the tax implications of any settlement agreement.
Divorcing a small business owner – transferring business on the names of other people
While divorcing a small business owner our client had a situation when their spouses are trying to avoid the division of the business by transferring their businesses to the names of other people.
If a spouse who is a business owner transfers the ownership of their business to someone else during a divorce, it could be considered fraudulent and illegal. This is because the transfer of ownership could be seen as an attempt to hide assets from the other spouse and avoid having to divide the business as part of the divorce settlement.
In California, all property acquired during the marriage is considered community property and must be divided equally between the spouses in the event of a divorce. This includes businesses that were started or acquired during the marriage. If one spouse transfers ownership of their business to someone else during the divorce proceedings, the court may still consider the business as community property and may require that it be divided equally between the spouses.
If the transfer of ownership is found to be fraudulent, the court may impose penalties and sanctions against the business owner. Additionally, the other spouse may be entitled to a larger portion of the community property to compensate for the attempted transfer of assets.
It’s important for business owners going through a divorce to be transparent and honest about their assets and not attempt to hide them from the other spouse or the court. Working with an experienced divorce attorney can help ensure that all assets, including businesses, are properly accounted for and divided in a fair and equitable manner.
Divorcing a small business owner – tools to detect the fraudulent transfer of business ownership.
In California divorce cases, there are several discovery tools that can be used to detect fraudulent transfers of business ownership. Some of these tools include:
- Interrogatories: Interrogatories are written questions that one party sends to the other to gather information. Interrogatories can be used to ask specific questions about the business and any transfers of ownership that may have occurred.
- Depositions: Depositions are sworn statements made under oath and recorded by a court reporter. Depositions can be used to question witnesses, including the business owner and any other individuals who may have knowledge of the transfer of ownership.
- Requests for Production of Documents: Requests for production of documents are written requests for the other party to produce certain documents. In a divorce case involving a small business owner, these requests may include financial records, tax returns, and any documentation related to the transfer of ownership.
- Subpoenas: A subpoena is a legal order requiring a person or entity to produce documents or appear in court. Subpoenas can be used to compel the production of documents or to require the business owner or other witnesses to testify in court.
- Forensic Accounting: Forensic accounting is a specialized type of accounting that involves investigating financial records to uncover fraud or other financial irregularities. In a divorce case involving a small business owner, a forensic accountant may be hired to examine financial records and determine whether any fraudulent transfers of ownership have occurred.
It’s important to work with an experienced divorce attorney who can help you navigate the discovery process and ensure that all necessary steps are taken to uncover any fraudulent transfers of business ownership.