How can a non-owner spouse be sure that they obtain their portion of the business during divorce?

A lot of things are valued because a dollar amount is associated with it. If there is a bank account that’s subject to division, you know how much is in the bank account and you equally divide it. Businesses are different, and usually what is required to value a business is a forensic accountant. The reason that is, is because businesses do not have price tags, meaning they don’t usually have a value assigned to them.

If you’re valuing a sign-making business, restaurant, or a medical practice, typically the court will either appoint a joint forensic accountant or you can hire your own forensic accountant to do a business valuation. If you or your spouse owns and operates a business and that business was started during marriage, or even before marriage but was operating during marriage, there’s going to be a community value component to that.

In order to value that properly, the forensic accountant will look at the books, and look at the documents and the bank statements and the hard assets, and come up with a value and present that to you as a litigant and also to the court. If you can’t use that valuation for purposes of settlement, then you need to take it to court and have it divided.

There’s really community value to a business, and usually the court will find that there’s some “good will”, a term that the courts, forensic accountants, and lawyers use to mean that, are people going to come back to your business? That’s an intangible value that a forensic accountant will put on a business using the various tax returns, bank statements, cash flow, and things that are relative to the business so that you can develop a value for purposes of division.


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