Filing for divorce can be a complicated process for anyone seeking to fairly divide their community property while safeguarding their financial well-being, but when business ownership and complex property division comes into play, the stakes are significantly higher. Business owners in Los Angeles have much to consider when filing for divorce, especially if they want to protect the integrity and financial security of a business they owned or acquired before marriage, or ensure a shared business venture is valued appropriately and divided fairly by the courts. If you are a lawyer, doctor or other business owner in Los Angeles and you are considering filing for divorce, or if you have been served divorce papers by your spouse, don’t hesitate to get qualified legal help. Contact Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles today at (213) 550-4600 to discuss your case with a knowledgeable and compassionate divorce attorney.
Affordable Los Angeles Business Owner Divorce Attorney
Property division laws vary state by state, and in California, any property acquired by the couple in marriage is considered “community property” to be divided equally in divorce, which may not seem fair to you if you put more money or work into the business than your spouse did. If you are filing for divorce as a business owner in Los Angeles, or if you have been served divorce papers by your high net worth spouse, it is critical that you consult an experienced divorce attorney to evaluate your options. Our legal team at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles specializes in family law and has extensive experience in business division and valuation in divorce. We can provide you with valuable legal guidance throughout the divorce process and help you determine what property and assets you are entitled to under California’s community property laws. Our attorneys will always try to help divorcing couples who own a business work out the issue of complex property division outside of court, using dispute resolution methods, but we are also prepared to aggressively represent our clients in court, should a trial become necessary.
California’s Community Property Laws for Business Owners
Under California’s community property division laws, in absence of an agreement saying otherwise, all assets (and debts) a couple acquires in marriage belong to both spouses equally and must therefore be divided 50-50 in divorce. Business ownership is treated as an asset in divorce, and there are a variety of ways to divide a Los Angeles business depending on whether it is considered marital or separate property, or both. If one spouse owned or inherited the business before marriage, it is likely the asset will be considered a mixture of marital and separate property, which is where things can get complicated. In cases where a business owner or high net worth individual enters into a marriage already owning significant separate property and assets, including one or more businesses, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may be drafted to protect the individual’s property in the event of a divorce or death, in which case the agreement will dictate how the property should be divided.
Prenuptial agreements, or contracts drafted and signed prior to a marriage, and postnuptial agreements, which are drafted and signed after a couple is already married, are popular among high net worth individuals in Los Angeles who wish to create a contractual agreement that dictates the division of property in the event of divorce or death, should the couple wish to divide the property in a way other than what is dictated by California’s community property provisions. This type of agreement is often drafted by doctors, lawyers and other professionals with a previously owned business, which may allow the business to remain separate from the marital estate and therefore untouched by any division of marital property in a later divorce. Not only does this safeguard the integrity and financial security of the business, it also makes the division of assets in divorce that much simpler.
Understanding How a Divorce Can Affect Business Owners
In most divorces, the division of marital property involves splitting up assets like the family residence, vehicles, bank accounts, debts and retirement accounts. More complex divorce matters in Los Angeles, however, may include the division of other high-value property, including one or more businesses. There are various ways in which the issue of business co-ownership can be handled when doctors, lawyers and other business owners in Los Angeles decide to divorce:
- In one case, the couple may find that they can and still want to continue operating as business partners, which means neither spouse has to relinquish his or her interest in the business, nor will they have to go through the process of having the business appraised.
- If one spouse wants to continue owning and operating the business and the other spouse wants out, the one spouse may choose to buy out the other spouse’s share in the business, which means the business will need to be appraised.
- Both spouses could also decide that they want to sell the business outright when they divorce, in which case the business will have to be appraised, and once sold, the couple will split the proceeds from the sale.
- Different issues are raised altogether for Los Angeles professionals who own or acquire a high-asset business operation prior to getting married, such as doctors and lawyers, and who see the business as separate property not subject to California’s community property laws.
Complex property division is typically a hotly-contested issue among divorcing couples in Los Angeles and complex divorces can take time to resolve, possibly dragging out over a period of months or even years. Full disclosure of the value of the business is imperative in dividing it equally, and business valuation can be a complicated, time-consuming and costly process, especially if it comes down to one spouse being awarded the business and paying the other for his or her community share in the business.
How an Experienced Business Owner Divorce Lawyer Can Help
Divorce is rarely a pleasant process, but for the owners of one or more businesses, it can spell disaster. Some married couples who own a business together manage to be successful in both ventures, but in cases where the marriage deteriorates, and the ownership of the business becomes an asset to be divided in divorce, the divorce process can become extremely complicated and expensive, particularly if the case goes to trial. Selling or dividing a business is no easy undertaking, and the divorce process in Los Angeles can be extremely disruptive for business owners, especially when it comes to determining the value of the business and ensuring that it is split up fairly.
There are also situations in which one spouse may wish to challenge a prenuptial agreement in court. If, for instance, you signed away your right to the business before getting married, but then during the marriage played an important role in the operation of the business, you may have grounds to challenge the agreement in court, in which case having a Los Angeles divorce attorney on your side can significantly improve your chances of achieving a favorable outcome. Our attorneys at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles understand that no two marriages or divorces are the same, especially when business ownership is a factor in the divorce proceedings, and we can offer legal representation as unique as your personal and professional relationship.
Free Divorce Consultation for Business Owners in Los Angeles
Dividing a business in divorce can be a contentious affair, and whether the business in question is small or large, the personal and professional well-being of a Los Angeles doctor, lawyer or other business owner involved in divorce proceedings will benefit greatly from extensive preparation and the knowledge and expertise of a Los Angeles divorce attorney. By selecting a practice that specializes in family law, you can feel confident that you are aware of all your legal options under California law and negotiate with your spouse a fair and timely division of your shared property and assets. For more information about complex property division and divorce for business owners in Los Angeles, contact Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles today for a free initial consultation.