Can my wife take my business from me if we divorce? 29 Answers as of August 24, 2011

I have an organization with a partner. My wife and I are divorcing and she is showing interest in my business. Can she do this? What are my rights if I do have a percentage of the corporation?

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Beresford Booth PLLC
Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
The court will make a fair and equitable division of your assets and liabilities.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/24/2011
The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
It always gets complicated when a guy sets up and runs his own business, and then gets divorced. You need some good advice. She can not just take the business from you. But that is not the end of the story.
Answer Applies to: New Jersey
Replied: 8/20/2011
Fredric H. Aaron, Attorney at Law, P.C.
Fredric H. Aaron, Attorney at Law, P.C. | Fredric Harlan Aaron
All assets acquired during a marriage are subject to equitable distribution with a few exceptions (gifts, property acquired by will or estate and returns on investments made prior to the marriage). If your business was founded during the marriage, then your wife may be entitled to half of the value of your interest in it. As for "taking" the business, a great deal may depend on what type of business entity you have and any agreements you have with your partner. In many circumstances (such as limited liability companies and closely held corporations), a spouse will not have the right to "take" the interest without the consent of the partner. You should consult an experienced divorce attorney who has a great deal of experience in corporate law to assist you in this process.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 8/17/2011
Bagwell Holt Smith Jones & Crowson, P.A.
Bagwell Holt Smith Jones & Crowson, P.A. | John G. Miskey IV
Consult with an attorney; your Wife has a presumptive 50% interest in the marital interest of your business.
Answer Applies to: North Carolina
Replied: 8/17/2011
Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
Law Office of Roianne H. Conner | Roianne Houlton Conner
Depending on the facts and circumstances of the divorce, your wife could be entitled to a portion of your interest in the corporation.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 8/15/2011
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy | Robert W. Bellamy
    Depends. You need to meet with attorney to discuss your situation. Too many variables to answer this question.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/12/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    That depends, in part, on what kind of business is involved and, in part, what you think your wife's "interest in the business" means. A going business likely has some market value and, whatever that value is, there is a probably a marital property interest. She will be entitled to a "fair share" of all of the marital property, but that applies to the total marital estate - it does not mean a fair share of each individual component. Unless the business is the only asset in the marital estate, it may be possible to achieve a fair distribution of marital property using other assets. Or, it may be possible to require you to "buy her out" over a time period. There may be various other options to solve the problem, but the first requirement will be to put a dollar value on your interest in the business and consider that dollar value as part of the total just as though it were a savings account. If there is any indication that your interest in the business has a dollar value (and it probably does), you need to consult an attorney and, perhaps, a business valuation expert, to evaluate the options. If you want a workable solution to the problem of what to do with the business, you and your wife need to work out an agreeable solution (with the help of experts) because a divorce judge will more than likely give you the easiest "decision" and that may not satisfy either you or your wife.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/12/2011
    Law Offices of Paul A. Eads, A.P.C.
    Law Offices of Paul A. Eads, A.P.C. | Paul A. Eads
    Typically there is a corporation that defines ownership. A forensic would be used to determine the value of the business and your wife would be entitled to her community interest in that percentage.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
    It is highly unlikely that your wife will be awarded the business in the divorce. If your interest in the business has some value and your interest was acquired during the marriage, there is a presumption under Oregon law that your wife will receive 50% of the value of your interest in the business. This presumption may be overcome by sufficient evidence, and that depends on the particular facts of your case. You should consult with an attorney if you haven't already done so.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni | Jay W. Neff
    First, some background on property division in a divorce. If the two of you can agree on how to divide the property, then, the two of you can divide it just about any way you want. However, if the two of you are unable to agree, then, it will be up to the court to divide the property and debts. If the court is going to divide the property, it first has to classify it. All of the property is going to be classified as your separate property, her separate property, or community property. Which of these classifications a particular piece of property falls into will depend on how and when the property was obtained. In most cases, property obtained during the marriage will be community property. Once the property is classified, how it gets divided will depend on a number of factors. Some of the factors that the court may consider are: the duration of the marriage, the ages of the parties, the health of the parties, the educational background of the parties, the employment history of the parties, and each party's future prospects. The court then has to come up with what the court believes is a fair and equitable division of all of the property using these and other factors. Now, if there is enough community property so that the court can come up with a fair division using just the community property, the court will generally do that. However, if there is not enough community property for the court to reach what it believes is a fair division, then, it can invade separate property. Now, as to your specific case: It seems to me unlikely that the court would take away from you a business that you have been running and substitute in a new partner. More likely, the court would either balance value of the interest in the business that you are getting against other property going to your spouse, or, it could have you pay your spouse some percentage of the value of your share of the business to your spouse.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    We recommend you consult with and retain a divorce lawyer ASAP. You fact summary does not give sufficient information, but we recommend you discuss all the facts with your lawyer, including whether or not she has participated in the business, or whether you owned it before the marriage, among other things. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    The Coyle Law Office
    The Coyle Law Office | T. Andrew Coyle
    Any assets acquired during the marriage are presumed to be marital property and therefore need to be divided upon a divorce. That does mean that your wife would be able to take your business - but it may mean that you will need to get your ownership interest appraised and have a value attached to it. Then, in dividing property, you may need to offset the value of your ownership in other marital assets (cash, residence, retirement plans, etc.).
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    In Ohio, if a business s created during the term of the marriage, your share is considered marital property. Please discuss your concerns with the domestic relations attorney handling your divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
    She may be entitled to a portion of the value of the company if the company is a marital asset (even partially). You should consult with an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    If you own a part of the corporation then it is subject to the same division rules as any other property, we have to determine if it is separate or community property and if community, it is subject to division. That said, if it is a true 501(3)(c) - Not For Profit Corporation then why would she want it, it has no value other than the job that comes with running it - I assume you make some salary - and that is your job, not hers, she is likely not qualified or knowledgeable enough to run the company and your partner will hopefully not agree to her having any authority in the company. In which case, if she wants 1/2 of your interest (I assume you have 50% of the shares) she gets 25% of a Not For Profit Company that makes no profits and therefore pays no dividends and with only 25% of the shares she cannot affect day to day business decisions. She owns a share of the company on paper and that paper is worth absolutely nothing. If however, you are sheltering for tax purposes behind the 501(3)(c) filing and you are actually taking profits - this could be very costly for both of you - a fight over the property will bring this fact to the attention of a three letter governmental agency you would rather not have the attention. Plus, even if the IRS does not catch you - she can ask the court to divide the interest and award her a part of it - but then she would be party to the misrepresentations to the IRS - still not have enough stock to have any say/control (I am still assuming you only own half and your partner will vote his/her shares in block with you) - but beware the cure for her in that case is to file suit, again this can turn into a very costly problem and any tax shelter is subject to crashing at the most inopportune moment.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    If there was value acquired in the business that was produced during the marriage, then your wife may have some percentage community interest in this asset. You need to consult with a skilled family law attorney to assess the property issues and explore your legal options.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Rhonda R. Werner Schultz, PL
    Rhonda R. Werner Schultz, PL | Rhonda R. Werner Schultz
    If the business was started during the marriage or marital money or labor was used to finance the business, your Wife has a marital interest in your marital share of the business. That typically does not allow her to take it away. Unless she is a shareholder of the corporation or has some other designated ownership interest, she cannot control your business. In all likelihood, a value of your interest in the business will be determined, either by agreement of you and your Wife or by a forensic accountant. Once that value is determined it is put in your column of marital assets and liabilities that will be divided in the divorce. Depending on the value, when you look at all other marital assets and liabilities, you may or may not be required to pay your Wife for her interest in the business. This is a relatively complicated area of divorce law and you should consult with a knowledgeable attorney in your area about what your exposure may be.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    Yes
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    It is considered a marital asset subject to valuation and distribution however there are ways to defend against any valuation and any equitable share she claims can also be offset by other assets.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Petit & Dommershausen SC
    Petit & Dommershausen SC | Tajara Dommershausen
    You need an attorney. While she can't take the business, she is entitled to 1/2 your equity value.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
    Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
    I cannot advise you vis-a-vis the 'non-profit' nature of the business. She has a right to half of any equity interest you have in any business that was formed during the marriage (community property), as long as there was no prenuptial agreement. She has a lesser, though tangible, right to your share of any business you owned prior to marriage that increased in value during the marriage (a share of the increase, only). The nature of the business as non-profit may insulate you to some extent.It might be tricky to valuate the non-profit agency. You might have a valid argument that thebusinessshould only be considered as a source of your wages, since it is a non-profit business that does not turn a profit.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    It isn't your business if it was established during marriage, it is a community asset. You may be able to buy her out of her interest in the business but she may remain as a silent partner if you cannot reach an agreement. She can only actually work in the business if it is agreed upon by the partners.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    441 Legal Group, Inc.
    441 Legal Group, Inc. | Gareth H. Bullock
    Well if your business interest was gained while you were married to her she is entitled half of your share. If not then she may attempt to claim she assisted in the business or helped to grow it, thereby entitling her to some portion of the business.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    She is entitled to a fair and equitable division of all assets and debts in Washington.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler
    Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler | Robert L Fiedler
    While anything is possible, I would dare so that she can't. She may be entitled to a share of your interest in it (of course, if it is a non-profit, what is the value of it?) but I would think that the only thing you derive from it is a paycheck. That being the case, what would she be getting?
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    If the company was started during the marriage it would be marital property. However, to what extent, if any, your wife might have a claim on it is something you need to discuss with an experienced family law attorney after you give them some more information and they ask you some questions about the specifics.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    Your post makes no sense. How can you have a percentage from a NON-profit business? Try posting again.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/11/2011
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