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Equitable Distribution of Businesses and Professional Practices

Equitable Distribution of Businesses and Professional Practices


Many divorcing spouses are professionals with thriving practices or individuals with successful family businesses who want to protect their livelihood and retain their businesses or practices. Questions arise in divorce, such as whether one spouse is entitled to part of the other spouse’s business or professional practice and, if so, how that spouse will be compensated.  

A professional license in and of itself is not marital property and cannot be divided or taken during a divorce proceeding.  However, businesses and professional practices are often considered marital property and, in those cases, would be included in the division of property during a divorce. Division of property in such cases is often more complicated. The experienced attorneys at Rice Law Firm will guide you through the steps, including:

• Characterization of the professional practice or business as marital or
non-marital property:
  Although marital property is generally property that was acquired during the course of the marriage, a non-owner spouse may have a claim to the other spouse’s pre-marital  business or professional practice in certain situations.  If the value of the business or practice increases during the marriage due to marital efforts or funds, then that increase in the value is itself a marital asset. Or, if the owner spouse comingles marital funds, assets or debts with the premarital business or if he or she co-titles the business with the non-owner spouse, then the business may lose its non-marital status. Another scenario which muddies the marital versus non-marital waters is if the non-owner spouse works in the pre-marital business during the marriage.

• Valuation of the business or practice:  The family law attorneys at Rice Law Firm are experienced in evaluating all types of businesses and professional practices to determine if and how they should be divided. However, determining the value of a business or professional practice is a complicated process that often requires the involvement of experts on business valuation. Our attorneys have experience in complex business and professional practice valuation and work closely with the proper experts, including accountants and certified business appraisers, to ensure that there is a proper valuation of the business or practice.  

There are different options available to spouses when a business or professional practice is subject to equitable distribution in a divorce. Our attorneys will determine what options are available to you and work with you to decide what is best in your particular case. In some cases, a spouse may opt to exchange an interest in the business for a larger share of other marital assets. Another scenario is when a spouse opts to buy out the other spouse’s share of the business. Yet another possibility involves the sale of the business to a third party and dividing the proceeds from the sale between the parties. We will vigorously pursue the outcome that is in your best interest.  

In divorce cases involving businesses or professional practices, accurate asset characterization and valuation is of the utmost importance in ensuring that the parties’ interests are protected. The family law attorneys at Rice Law Firm will work to insure that your property is properly defined and protected. 

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