Wife Obtains Fair Property Division in Disputed Divorce With Business Owner Husband
A wife in a divorce proceeding filed by her business owner husband retained us to ensure that she received a fair division of their marital property. The couple's children were grown, so the divorce did not involve child custody or child support. The wife had a bookkeeping practice that provided her with reasonable income but sought to receive half of the value of the business her husband had built over the course of the parties' long marriage while the wife stayed at home to raise their children. Our client, the wife, believed that the business had a value of many millions of dollars. The husband maintained that the business was worth little to nothing and that, at most, he should pay modest spousal support while retaining all the business assets and liabilities. We retained a business appraisal expert and helped the expert discover, acquire, and analyze the business's value. We also employed a forensic accountant to study the business's accounting records for disguised value and to help us cross-examine the other side's appraisal and accounting experts. Our client's appraisal came in at a solid eight figures, while the other side's appraisal came in at approximately one-tenth of that amount. We prepared a thorough presentation of exhibits and testimony for the judge to decide on the business appraisal dispute. We also showed that law and equity demanded that the judge divide the business's value equally, without adjustment for other factors. The judge took the matter under advisement and, one month later, issued a written opinion valuing the business at ninety percent of our client's appraisal. The judgment of divorce awarded our client nearly all of the amount she asked for. Post-judgment, the matter was resolved for a cash award of most of the judgment amount.