Experienced Divorce Attorneys for Business Owners in New Jersey
Is your business at stake in a divorce? Learn what you can do to protect your hard-earned business. At MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family Law of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC, we bring decades of experience in representing business owners in complex, contentious, and high-net-worth divorces. Our law offices are in Bergen County, but we represent clients throughout the State of New Jersey.
How Business Assets Are Classified in the NJ Divorce Process
Under New Jersey law, with limited exceptions, any assets that either spouse acquires during their marriage will be subject to equitable distribution in their divorce. Common exceptions are inheritances or gifts that were never mingled with marital finances.
The marital property includes physical assets, like real estate and vehicles, and financial assets, like investment accounts. An ownership interest in a privately held business is another type of asset that can be marital property and subject to equitable distribution. If you are a business owner who is preparing to go through a New Jersey divorce, protecting your business should be among your top priorities.
Dividing Marital Assets
The equitable distribution could mean dividing all of the assets 50/50, though what a court or couple considers equitable might not involve splitting everything down the middle. Depending on the facts, such as if one spouse has a far lower earning potential than the other spouse, he or she might be entitled to a greater amount of property or alimony. If you are not only a business owner but also the majority wage earner in your marriage, then talk with a lawyer right away about the business assets and potentially spousal support.
At MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family Law of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC, our divorce lawyers have particular experience representing business owners. We serve business owners who have offices in New Jersey and across the river in New York City. Our law firm takes a personalized, custom-tailored approach that focuses on protecting your rights, securing your post-divorce independence, and minimizing your financial obligations to your former spouse.
Key Considerations During a Business Divorce
While all separating spouses need to be proactive about protecting their rights in divorce, planning ahead is particularly important for owners of privately-held businesses and family businesses. Business owners need to know whether all or a portion of their ownership interest qualifies as marital property. If it does, they need to work with a family law attorney to develop and execute a strategy designed to limit their soon-to-be-former spouse from retaining an interest in the business.
When we counsel owners of New Jersey businesses preparing to go through a divorce, some of the key issues we assess include:
Marital vs. Separate Property
Does all or a portion of your business qualify as marital property, which would make it subject to equitable distribution in your divorce? Or, is your business separate property that will not be at risk?
Prenuptial or Mid-Marriage Agreement
Did you and your spouse sign a prenuptial agreement before you got married? If not, did you sign a mid-marriage agreement (or postnup)? If you signed an agreement, then you should talk with a divorce attorney about what is said directly or indirectly about the business. The terms of your agreement could override New Jersey’s default marital property laws.
Your Spouse’s Involvement or Contributions
Was your spouse directly involved in the business? Is he or she also an owner or an employee of the business? If not, did he or she take on home and family responsibilities to allow you to devote your time to growing your company?
If your spouse was regularly involved in helping you start and grow the business, this potentially gives him or her a stronger claim to a portion of the business in settlement negotiations.
The Business’s Bylaws and Shareholder Agreement
Does the business’s bylaws or shareholder agreement address divorce? Business owners and directors are aware that owners may get divorced one day, so they plan for the inevitable. The bylaws or a shareholder agreement might specifically say that an ex-spouse cannot retain an ownership interest in the business once divorced.
While your spouse might be entitled to the value of a portion of the business, he or she might not be entitled to retain an ownership stake.
Growth During Your Marriage and Separation
If you started the business before you got married, did it grow after you tied the knot? Did it grow even more after your separation date, if you and your spouse separated? The answers to these questions will be critical to determining if a portion of your business qualifies as marital property.
Your spouse could have a right to a portion of the growth of the company that took place while you were married, even though the business was yours before the marriage took place.
The Business Valuation
Assuming a portion of your business interest qualifies as marital property, what is the value of the business as well as the value of your spouse’s portion? Valuing the business is key to assessing your options regarding the equitable distribution of your marital assets in your divorce.
We partner with business valuation experts to reach an accurate and fair amount. Experts will take into account many factors, including a business’s physical property, inventory, intellectual property, reputation, account receivables, debt, and more.
Steps We Take in a Divorce Involving Business Ownership
The first step is determining if any portion of business ownership is part of the marital estate. The second step our divorce lawyers take is to obtain an accurate and up to date business valuation. If an ownership stake in the business is a marital asset, we’ll determine what portion your spouse has a right to and the value of that portion.
Call Our Business Owner Divorce Attorneys Today
For more information about common business issues in divorce cases, and the steps you can take to protect your privately-held business during your divorce, contact the Bergen County, NJ, family law offices of MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family Law of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC. We offer highly experienced and skilled legal representation for business owners. To schedule an initial consultation, call 201-552-3394 or inquire online today.