Business interests can be taken into account as a financial resource during divorce proceedings. Leading family lawyer Andrew Barton has supported many business owners through the divorce process. Here are some questions he is often asked.
How can I protect my business?
Having a pre or post nuptial agreement in place is a good idea and can set out what you would like to happen if you should break up with your partner. This is something that you need to have in place before a relationship breaks down however. It can also be helpful to keep your business and personal finances separate. The best way to protect your business interest if a divorce is imminent is to seek advice from a specialist lawyer.
Will my business have to be valued?
There are situations where a business interest will need to be valued for a divorce – although this is often not as onerous as some people imagine. The process is similar to the due diligence that a potential purchaser would carry out. In some circumstances such as an imminent sale, where there is a shorter marriage or where the cost of valuation is prohibitive, it may not be necessary to seek a valuation.
Can I ask my company accountant to value the business?
This can sometimes be helpful, however care needs to be taken to ensure it is done correctly and at the right time, since valuations by company accountants can be viewed with suspicion by spouses. If an Expert Witness is appointed to value your business interest, your accountant will often have an important role in giving them evidence.
Is there anything I need to think about before separating?
It is always a good idea to take advice before separating. There is a lot to think about and it can be difficult to navigate those issues and ensure that everything is covered. A meeting with a solicitor can help provide clarity. The date you choose to separate can also be critical from a tax perspective, so it is important before separating to know if that might be an issue for you.
Andrew Barton is a partner in the family team at Stephens Scown LLP. The team has top ranking in both Legal 500 and Chambers UK. Andy specialises in the financial aspects of relationship breakdown, particularly high value and complex financial work. He is recognised as a leader in his field by Chambers UK and is recommended in Legal 500. He is also included in the CityWealth Leaders List, an international guide to private wealth management for ultra high net worth clients. To contact Andy, please call 01392 210700, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.stephens-scown.co.uk