Experienced Divorce Attorneys for Business Owners in New Jersey
As a business owner, it is critical to understand whether your business is at stake in your divorce, and if so what you can do to protect it. At Schultz & Associates, LLC, we bring decades of experience to representing business owners in complex and high-net-worth divorces in Bergen County and throughout New Jersey.
Under New Jersey law, with only limited exceptions, any assets that either spouse acquires during their marriage will be subject to equitable distribution in their divorce. This includes not only physical and financial assets (such as real estate and investment accounts), but interests in privately-held businesses as well. In fact, not only can newly-acquired business interests be classified as “marital property” that is subject to distribution, but so can appreciation in the value of an existing business.
If you are a business owner in New Jersey who is preparing to go through a divorce, protecting your business needs to be among your top priorities. At Schultz & Associates, LLC we have particular experience representing business owners who are going through divorce. We serve business owners who have offices in New Jersey and across the river in New York City, and our attorneys take a personalized, custom-tailored approach that focuses on securing business owners’ post-divorce independence while minimizing their financial obligations to their former spouses.
Key Considerations for Business Owners in 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. Business owners need to know whether all or a portion of their ownership interest qualifies as “marital property,” and if so they need to develop and execute a strategy designed to prevent their soon-to-be-former spouse from retaining an interest or role in the business.
When we counsel business owners 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 (meaning it is subject to distribution in your divorce)? Or, is your business “separate property” that will not be at risk when you or your spouse files a divorce petition?
- 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, what does it say – either directly or indirectly – about your business? This is critical, since the terms of your agreement can override New Jersey’s default marital property laws.
- Your Spouse’s Involvement or Contributions – Was your spouse directly involved in the business? If not, did he or she take on home and family responsibilities so that you could devote your time to growing your company? Both of these could potentially give your spouse a stronger claim to a portion of the business in your divorce.
- 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 you and your spouse separated (if you separated)? The answers to these questions will be critical to determining what portion of your business (if any) qualifies as marital property.
- Business Valuation – Assuming a portion of your business qualifies as marital property, what is that portion worth? This is key to assessing your options regarding the equitable distribution of your marital assets in your divorce. Note that the methods for valuing privately-held businesses for divorce purposes differ from those used in arm’s-length transactions.
Learn More – Schedule an Initial Consultation at Schultz & Associates, LLC
For more information about these issues and the steps you can take now to help protect your privately-held business in your divorce, contact the Bergen County, NJ family law offices of Schultz & Associates, LLC. To schedule a flat-rate 90-minute initial consultation, call 201-880-9770 or inquire online today.