As a general rule, any property acquired during the marriage and in existence at the time of divorce is marital property. That applies to business interests, as well.
In many divorce cases, one of the most contentious issue is the valuation of any business owned by one or both spouses.
There are many methods for valuing a business, including market-based approaches, income-based approaches, and asset-based approaches.
Most businesses have both tangible and intangible components to value. Tangible components are things like equipment and inventory. Intangible components include such things as reputation; either the reputation of the business as a whole, or the reputation of the individual owner or owners. This is sometimes referred to as “goodwill.” The law may treat these components differently. For example, depending on the circumstances, the law may define reputation as a marital asset, or as non-marital property.
As a result of these issues, one of the most important decisions for you and your lawyer to make is whom you choose to value the business involved. Your valuation expert needs to be someone who understands the particular issues involved, and someone who will be respected by the court.
If you are involved in a divorce case involving business interests, be sure to select a lawyer who is familiar with the issues and who can guide you through the process.