What Happens to My Professional Practice During My Florida Divorce?
Every divorce requires an equitable division of martial assets and liabilities. This process is typically one of the most contentious issues in any divorce proceeding. This contention could be multiplied if an asset of the marriage is a spouse’s professional business or practice. If you or your spouse own a business or retain an interest in a professional practice, contact an experienced Orlando Divorce Attorney who can seek to protect your interest in this professional practice.
The first step in determining if your professional practice is susceptible to division is to classify it as marital or separate property. Florida statute defines marital property as “assets acquired and liabilities incurred during the marriage, individually by either spouse or jointly by them.” (61.075) Therefore, if you or your spouse began this business during the time of your marriage, the court will hold it as a marital asset subject to equitable distribution. Therefore, if you or your spouse started the business in question prior to your marriage it may be considered separate property. However, a business started prior to marriage may still be considered, at least partially marital property. “The enhancement in value and appreciation of nonmarital assets resulting from the efforts of either party during the marriage or from the contribution to or expenditure thereon of marital funds or other forms of marital assets, or both,” will be considered marital property as this appreciation in value occurred during the time of the marriage. (61.075) Discuss your particular circumstances with your Orlando Divorce Attorney to determine the proper classification of this critical asset.
If you or your spouse’s business is deemed marital property, it would be imperative to obtain a comprehensive business evaluation. A valuation expert will need to be hired in order to gather a complete and accurate picture of the business assets, liabilities, and profits. This will be conducted through an investigation of financial records, accounts, visits to properties owned by the business and any other tactics deemed necessary by the expert. Obtaining an accurate representation of the business’ value is crucial in a divorce and can significantly impact your distribution award.
After proper and critical valuation, the court will then determine equitable distribution. Along with a number of other factors, the court will look to “the desirability of retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party,” when determining the division of a business. If awarded sole ownership to one spouse, the court may balance such an award with an equal amount of value in other assets to the other spouse. Or, the court may also take into account the sole ownership of a marital business when calculating an alimony award. Therefore, if not awarded an interest or ownership of a marital business, your Orlando Divorce Attorney may be able to argue to the court the need of other options to provide similar value or income to you.
Your Orlando Divorce Attorney will argue the property classification and walk you through every process of a business evaluation and discuss with you the options regarding the distribution of your professional practice. If you are facing a divorce in the Orlando Area, finding an experienced attorney who can guide you through asset distribution when a private practice is involved is imperative.
Speaking to an attorney at our Orlando office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 407-512-0887 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.