Is my wife entitled to halfof my business? 35 Answers as of August 05, 2011

I am the sole owner of a franchise, and am currently going through a divorce. My wife wants half the value of the business, even though her name is not on it anywhere. Is she entitled to any of it since it is my only source of income?

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Beresford Booth PLLC
Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
The Court will make a fair and equitable division of assets/liabilities.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/5/2011
Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq.
Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq. | Jeffrey Lawrence Pollock
There is no magic that states that she does or does not get half of your business. Has she filed a count for Equitable Distribution? Has she had the goodwill, etc. of the franchise appraised? Was it obtained during the marriage? What was the amount of the increase in value during the marriage? It is legally irrelevant whether her name is on the business except for a forensic accountant appraising the importance of you and her respectively to the prospects of the business.
Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 7/28/2011
Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler
Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler | Robert L Fiedler
The bigger quesiton is what the value of the franchise is and whether there are other ways of satisfying legitimate claims she may have to that asset.
Answer Applies to: Connecticut
Replied: 7/26/2011
Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation
Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation | Paul Wallin
If the business was opened while you were married and you continued to operate it during the marriage then your wife will be entitled to 50% of the value of the business during the divorce. It doesn't matter that her name is not on the business. You have too much at stake to not be meeting with an experienced family lawyer now.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/24/2011
John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
Both you and your wife are entitled to a fair share of the total marital estate. The presumption is that everything you or she own now, regardless of whose name is on it, is marital unless and until someone proves that it is separate (based on having been owned before marriage or during the marriage by gift or inheritance.) There are no absolute rules as to what is "fair" but if you and your wife cannot agree onthe overall settlement, a judge will probably startwith a 50/50 approach. There is no requirement that each individual item be divided it is the overall division that is measured as fair or not. How your business will be handled will depend on many factors, including what kind of business it is, what its value is, and what else there is to perhaps offset the value you want to keep. You need to discuss the situation with an attorney to evaluate potential options for a final property settlement.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 7/23/2011
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
    If the business was acquired during the marriage with marital funds (money earned during the marriage), then it would be considered a marital asset subject to equitable distribution. It may be either partially or wholly a marital asset. You should consult with a family law attorney to assist you with the process and properly resolve any and all issues.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    To properly answer this question, more facts are needed. E.g., was the business started before or after marriage? How much did you invest in the franchise, what was the source of that money, and what it the franchise worth today? Did the franchise grow in value during the divorce? If so, was the primary cause of that growth due to your management, or was it due to other reasons, such as the nature of the business in a certain market, like a service or product that became popular in the general community, and hence grew in value regardless of your management? Depending on the facts in your case, you may have to do what is called a "Pereira-Van Camp" analysis to determine the community interest in the business value, as well as determining community versus separate characterization of your income. If wife worked at the franchise, that will also have an effect on the analysis. I would strongly suggest that you hire a local family law lawyer that has experience with this type of complex issue. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    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, as to your specific case: How the court is going to divide the business will depend on what other piece of property are available. To illustrate, let's take a very simple situation. Suppose that there are only two items of property - a house that has $100,000 worth of equity in it and a business that has $100,000 worth of equity in it. In a situation like that, it would be very easy for the court to award one of you the business and the other party house. However, the various issues that the court considers could skew the division one way or the other. If the wife in our example had a much greater need than the husband, the court could give the wife the house and part of the value of the business.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
    If your business was acquired during your marriage, there is a presumption that it's net value will be divided equally on marriage. To overcome that presumption, you must show that your wife did not contribute, directly or indirectly, to the acquisition of the asset. This is a complex area of the law, and if your business has generated a net profit, it is well worth it to retain an attorney experienced in domestic relations law to discuss the specifics of your case. As in business, do not be penny wise and pound foolish.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Gulstrom, Henson & Petrie, PC
    Gulstrom, Henson & Petrie, PC | Tami Monek
    If the business began during the marriage she is entitled to one-half the value of the business regardless of whose name is on the business. However, depending on the nature of the business and your role in the success of the business, arguments may be made that the value if far lower than your wife believes. A good attorney who has dealt with these issues in a trial setting should be able to give you a better idea of your liability, and how to reduce your liability by hiring a good expert.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    Maybe. Courts don't look at single assets in a vacuum. They consider many factors, all assets and debts, your financial futures, length of the marriage,etc. My website discusses property division further. In short, the court divides all your assets and debts in a fair and equitable manner after considering maintenance, child support, if any,the factors mentioned above and what their gut tells them. Whether the business is community or separate too matters. What the value of the business is can be a major issue. Business can have value beyond their hard assets and accounts receivables.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/25/2011
    Fox Law Firm LLC
    Fox Law Firm LLC | Tina Fox
    Not necessarily and not automatically. She can request it but certain factors must be in place before the courts will allow this to happen. You need to hire an attorney to represent you and protect your rights, assets, and business assets.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Meriwether & Tharp LLC
    Meriwether & Tharp LLC | Patrick Meriwether
    Any asset acquired during the course of the marriage is subject to equitable distribution. If you purchased franchise rights during the course of the marriage, then your Wife has a colorful claim to an equitable portion of the "value" of that franchise, regardless of whether her name is on the franchise or not. It is important that you hire an experienced divorce lawyer to help you through this process.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    We are divorce lawyers in Augusta and Evans, Georgia. We recommend you retain a divorce attorney as soon as possible to discuss your rights and options. You will be able to discuss with your own divorce lawyer all the facts, including whether or not you had the business before the marriage, the length of the marriage, and whether she has contributed to the business, among other things.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
    This is a complicated question. If you have a divorce attorney, and the attorney can not explain all of this to you, fire the attorney and get a good one. If you do not have a divorce attorney, get one now!!! I can help you with this. And I will tell you up front what it will cost to do this for you. Give me a call, make an appointment to come see me, and let's get moving on this for you. No charge for the telephone call and no charge for the first office visit.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Elmbrook Law Offices
    Elmbrook Law Offices | Gregory Straub
    In most situations, your wife would be entitled to a share of the calculated and negotiated business valuation. The caveat would be if you started and owned the franchise before you were married and can prove that your wife did not provide any time or money toward this business. However, the key to your divorce will be the negotiations in establishing your Marital Settlement Agreement.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    she has an equitable claim to the business and your income. However you should argue she cannot "double dip" and base any value on the income you receive from it.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Petit & Dommershausen SC
    Petit & Dommershausen SC | Tajara Dommershausen
    This is way too complex of an issue for this kind of forum, depending on the length of marriage, the state of the business when you got married ect there is a good chance she should get half.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner | Roianne Houlton Conner
    The answer to this question depends on the lenght of the marriage and what your spouse contributed to the business.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    The value of the business, accrued during the marital relationship is divisible in a divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    If the business was started during the marriage, it is a community business. Each party, on divorce, is entitled to 1/2 of the net community property. If you acquired the franchise during the marriage, and paid for it with monies earned during the marriage, it is community property. It doesn't matter that your wife's name is included in any paperwork as a co-owner of the business. If it is community property, your wife has a community interest in the franchise.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Donaldson Stewart, PC
    Donaldson Stewart, PC | Monica H. Donaldson Stewart
    If the business was purchased during the marriage, she may be entitled to a share of the business (or to be bought out of her share) as part of the divorce. It wouldn't matter whether her name is on the documents or not. You might also want to review your franchise agreement to see whether it makes any provisions for what happens in the event of the death or divorce of an owner. I recommend you speak with an attorney to discuss your options more fully.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Law Office of Patricia Van Haren
    Law Office of Patricia Van Haren | Patricia Van Haren
    If you started the business during the marriage, your wife would be entitled to 1/2 of the value of the business. If you started the business prior to marriage, your wife would be entitled to 1/2 of the community share of the business. There are several ways in which the court values a business particularly where the business consists of personal services. You should contact a family law attorney who works with business valuation experts particularly if your business is valuable or there will be a dispute as to the ownership of the business.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Seattle Divorce Services
    Seattle Divorce Services | Michael V. Fancher
    Under Washington law, if the business was started during the marriage, it would likely be treated as community property. If that is the case, generally the business would be awarded to you, but you would have to buy her out by by giving her other property as an offset, or though a payment plan over time. Please consult with an attorney in your area about your specific situation.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Rosenberg & Press, LLC
    Rosenberg & Press, LLC | Christopher D. Hite
    Depends on a lot of factors, but certainly possible.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Gregory T. Buckley, Attorney at Law
    Gregory T. Buckley, Attorney at Law | Gregory T. Buckley
    If the business was acquired during the marriage, it will be considered a marital asset and thus subject to equitable distribution. It does not matter that her name is not on it.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    Any property acquired during the marriage from a spouses work or effort is considered community property. If the business was created during the marriage, then each of you have a right to any community property goodwill value at the time you separate. If you had the business before marriage , then there may be both a separate and community value to this asset. To property plan for this divorce and to protect your legal rights, you should consult with an attorney skilled in family law.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Osterman Law LLC
    Osterman Law LLC | Mark D. Osterman
    Sorry, more details will be needed and some discussion with a lawyer and a CPA/tax professional. Here is why 1. Was the business started during or before the marriage? 2. Is it her sole source of income (even though she gets it from you, you get it from the business). 3. What inventory is on hand routinely and its value? 4. What kind of business? Does it need a cash injection to operate? 5. Does the business own property to stay in business and what is it? 6. What is depriciable and what is write-off and what is taxable? I have an old friend in Alaska that buys and markets salmon. He buys over a million pounds of fish at over $1 a pound and the price varies. He puts fish into cold storage and he sells to China, Japan and England and France. But they do not sell the day they are caught or even cut. They are frozen and placed in storage or even freezer containers where they have to be held for Customs, Homeland Securities and the foreign power to be sure they really are fish. He will sell these fish for $8 million dollars. He only made $55,000 for taxes last year. His expenses, overhead, storage, costs for boxes and wrapping, processing and other costs is substantial and then there are brokerage fees, even bribes to some governments to get his product moving. When he got a divorce, his Ex argued that he paid too much in expenses, took too much depreciation and too many deductions and bought equipment he really did not need and got his child support to say he made over $200,000. So let me suggest thisget a CPA and a lawyer. Two heads to value the company and try to keep your company functioning. By the way, that buddy of mine paid more in child support than the IRS said he earned.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    Maybe. Many factors come to play in dividing property. In this case, did you start the business during the term of the marriage? If so it will likely be considered marital property, and thus subject to division by the parties. You say you are currently going through a divorce. I hope that a successful businessman like you is not trying to represent himself. That would be a huge mistake. If you have domestic relations counsel, ask he or she about your options in negotiating a settlement. If you are trying to represent yourself, get an attorney now.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    The good news: Over and over I see people with the misconception that divorces in Georgia are 50-50 divisions. That is false. Georgia does not have community property. Now the bad news: Georgia does have equitable division. The court can give her ALL your business, none of it, or any percent it deems just. You have a complex legal situation and must get counsel. A bankruptcy with a business requires a good lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Apple Law Firm PLLC
    Apple Law Firm PLLC | David Goldman
    if it was purchased with marital assets and you efforts while married improved the value then it will be considered a marital asset. You should talk your divorce attorney to determine how it would be classified.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    There are no entitlements when it comes to property division. However, the business could be considered marital property and subject to equitable division if it was built up during the marriage. This means that if you can't decide how to divide that property a judge will do so according to what he/she thinks would be fair under the circumstances of your case. You should talk to an attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/22/2011
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