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The Family Business Is a Marital Asset, Even If It Is Titled in Only One Spouse’s Name


According to Florida law, all marital assets and debts are subject to equitable distribution in a divorce.  In other words, the court endeavors to dive your marital property in the fairest way possible.  If you and your spouse are able to agree on how to divide your property in a marital settlement agreement, the court will simply sign off on it in your divorce judgment.  If not, the judge will have to make his or her own decision about what is fair in your case.  Marital property includes all the income earned and assets acquired by either spouse during the marriage, with the exception of inheritance money and personal injury settlements.  Unless you have a prenuptial agreement that says otherwise, the business that you and your spouse own and operate together is marital property, even if only one spouse is listed as an owner.  If equitable division of the family business is a sticking point in your divorce, contact a South Florida divorce lawyer.

When Only One Spouse’s Name Is on the Title to a Marital Asset

The identifying characteristic of a marital asset is that you gained it during the marriage.  Likewise, loans that you borrowed during the marriage count as marital debts.  Of course, married people often title valuable assets, including houses and cars, in only one spouse’s name.  Likewise, you might take out a loan in your name only, without your spouse’s name.  The reasons for doing this vary from one couple to another. In the case of a business where only one spouse is listed as the owner, it may be that, when the couple established the business, only one spouse had good enough credit to qualify for a small business loan.  The couple might have chosen to list the wife as the business owner so the company could participate in initiatives reserved for businesses owned by women.  If the parties participated equally in the operation of the business, or even if they didn’t, the business is a marital asset.

The Wife Who Fired Her Husband from the Family Business When He Filed for Divorce

In 1995, George and Sarah, a married couple founded a professional employer organization (called a “staffing agency” in layman’s terms), and over the next 16 years, it became so successful that its value grew to $20,000,000.  The couple listed Sarah as the sole owner, because George’s previous felony conviction barred him from owning a business in that strictly regulated industry.  George was listed as an employee, but in practice, he was at least as involved as Sarah in the day to day operations and decision making for the business.  In 2011, when George filed for divorce, Sarah filed him from all his roles at the business.  She refused to present the company’s financial records to the court in the couple’s divorce case, but since the business was a marital asset, the court compelled her to present them.

Let Us Help You Today

A Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help you keep your fair share of the family business you helped to build.  Contact Schwartz | White for help today.




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