EXPERIENCE MATTERS WHEN IT COMES TO TACKLING TOUGH CASES!

Divorce And Your Business: Who Gets What

In today’s unpredictable economy there has been a continuing growth of small businesses and a substantial decrease of existing established businesses in Texas. In the regrettable instance of “Divorce” how may the “Family Business” be divided between a dissolving couple to reach a fair and reasonable result for both parties?

In such a situation, an experienced Family Law Attorney with the aid of economic experts becomes critical in establishing a fair and equitable price on the business, consulting the client on their rights relative to the business, helping with negotiations for a business entity to be sold, transferred, or appraised, and making sure the client’s rights are protected in the transaction.

The most important fact to establish is a credible determination of the true fair market value of a business and how the business or the business assets are to be divided between the spouses in the divorce.

The dividable interest is determined by the fair market value of the business. This value is the price a willing buyer would pay and a willing seller would give in a purchase with both buyer and seller having reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts of the business and neither being under pressure to buy or sell the business.

During a Divorce, the concept of a credible hypothetical buyer and seller may be determative and very complicated. Going through a divorce is difficult enough, but fairly determining the true value of the business in the process can be complicated and sometimes expensive. There are always two different ideas in every divorce and the family business will bring out the some very serious opinions of just what is the “fair market value”! Ideas may range from too high in today’s economy to too low base on emotional attachments, complicated further by feelings as to possible other family members who own or claim parts of the business. The value placed on proposed purchases that are not part of an arm’s length transaction may not be relevant to the correct fair market value.

To help determine the fair market value and complete the transaction fairly for both parties the family law attorney must be able to obtain and review all business and financial records, financial statements and tax returns, and any other pertinent information for the preceding 5-7 years. Often an independent business appraiser or CPA will be retained to help in determining a credible and correct valuation of the business that a Judge or Jury will respect.

What to Do if you are Served with a Divorce Petition, Citation, or Notice to Appear

A divorce proceeding is a difficult time for all parties involved. It is scary to be “served” with a petition for divorce. Fear, anxiety, and confusion are just some of the emotions that go through one’s mind when reading and absorbing an official Court document stating that a spouse wishes to end the relationship. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you are served.

First, it is not the total end of the world. Do not give into immediate impulses and passions or fall prey to threatening or aggressive messages. Remember anything you say or do, especially in messages, texts or emails, may be used against you at Court. Do not give your spouse free arguments for the divorce.

Second, DO NOT use social media to vent frustration or talk about the divorce. Anything you write to third parties on social media may and will be used against you in Court. It may be hard but for your own benefit do not engage in frustrated tirades regarding your spouse on Facebook.

Third, find an experienced attorney, especially if children are involved. Be smart. It is not always prudent to hire a lawyer based on what appears to be the best financial deal possible when your children and possessions are at stake. The old axiom “you get what you pay for” is true when it comes to legal representation.

Fourth, be wary of Pro Se representation. Pro Se means that you have chosen to represent yourself in the divorce case. This may end very badly for you. Many people believe that if they research enough and familiarize themselves with the Texas Family Law Code they just might be able to receive a good outcome and drive up the attorney cost for the other spouse. Attorneys go to school for many years for a reason. The outcomes for Pro Se clients are not usually good and do not be tricked into taking on an inexperienced attorney to save money.

Fifth, save all hateful and scandalous remarks made by your spouse that have been emailed, texted, posted on social media or any other proof that can be saved against your spouse. Delete Nothing! Allow your spouse to dig his/her own hole. All of both spouse’s comments may be used in Court.

Finally, do not listen to your Spouse about any type of perceived legal outcomes. “I talked to a divorce lawyer and he said you better sign this or I will get everything…”. This is common in family law. Do not fall for the trap, seek experienced representation and let the divorce lawyer deal with your spouse or your spouse’s attorney. Do not be tricked into settling or giving up your children or possessions without competent assistance and advice from legal counsel.

Follow this advice and it will greatly help your probabilities with obtaining a favorable and fair outcome in your divorce case.

Nacol Law Firm P.C.
Dallas Divorce Attorneys
(972) 690-3333

Thinking of a Texas Divorce? Prepare A Divorce Financial Checklist For Your Next Move

Preparing for a Texas Divorce: Assets

Going through a Divorce is painful no matter what the circumstances are. Before you get into the Texas Divorce Process, reduce expense, stress and conflict by making sure you are financially prepared. Planning ahead helps you in making sound decisions, start preparing for post-divorce life, and avoid many post-divorce pitfalls. Below is a list of items you need to gather before counseling with an attorney. Financial Documents are a must to show what your true assets and liabilities are in your marriage.
We have included many assets that you may or may not have. This is only a financial checklist of multiple assets for your review so you will not miss an important asset that needs to be reported.

Documents:

1. Tax Returns (at least three years) or Tax Liens and all IRS related documents

2. Wills and Trusts with all attachments reflecting corpus and trust holdings

3. Listing of all liabilities (including mortgages, credit card debt, personal loans, automobile loans, etc.):
—Name of entity, address and telephone number
—Account number
—Amount owed
—Monthly payment
—Property securing payment (if any)
—Most current statements and account status of lenders

4. A Listing of all Real Property, address and location, including (includes time-shares and vacation properties):
–Deeds of Trust
—Notes including equity loans and second liens
—Legal Descriptions
—Mortgage Companies and Loan Servicers (Name, Address, Telephone Number, Account —Number, Balance of Note, Monthly Payments)
—Current fair market value
—Appraisals

5. Motor Vehicles (including mobile homes, boats, trailers, motorcycles, recreational vehicles; exclude company owned):
—Year
—Make
—Model
—Value
—Name on title
—VIN Number
—Fair Market Value
—Name of creditor (if any), address and telephone
—Persons listed on debt
—Account number
—Balance of any loan and monthly payment
—Net Equity in vehicle

6. Cash and accounts with financial institutions (checking, savings, commercial bank accounts, credit union funds, IRA’s, CD’s, 401K’s, pension plans and any other form of retirement accounts):
—Name of institution, address and telephone number
—Amount in institution on date of marriage
—Amount in institution currently
Account Number
—Names on Account
—Company loans and documents related to benefits

7. A listing of separate property (property owned prior to marriage, family heirlooms, property gifted, inherited property):
—Records that trace your separate property. These assets will remain yours if properly documented

8. Retirement & Pension Benefits:
—Exact name of plan
—Address of plan administrator
—Employer
–Employee
—Starting date of contributions
—Amount currently in account
—Balance of any loan against plan
—Documents

9. Publicly traded stock, bonds and other securities (including securities not in a brokerage, mutual fund, or retirement account):
—Number of shares
—Type of securities
—Certificate numbers
—In possession of
—Name of exchange which listed
—Pledged as collateral?
—Date acquired
—Tax basis
—Current market value
—If stock (date option granted, number of shares and value per share)
—Stock options plans and related documents

10. Insurance and Annuities Policies and Inventory:
—Name of insurance company
—Policy Number
—Insured
—Type of insurance (whole/term/universal)
—Amount of monthly premiums
—Date of Issue
—Face amount
—Cash surrender value
—Current surrender value
—Designated beneficiary
—Other policies and amendments

11. Closely held business interests:
—Name of business
—Address
—Type of business
—% of ownership
—Number of shares owned if applicable
–Value of shares
—Balance of accounts receivables
—Cash flow reports
—Balance of liabilities
—List of company assets
—Possible hobbies or side businesses that generate income

12. Mineral Interests (include any property in which you own the mineral estate, separate and apart from the surface estate, such as oil and gas leases; also include royalty interests, working interests, and producing and non-producing oil and gas wells:
—Name of mineral interest
—Type of interest
—County of location
—Legal description
—Name of producer/operator
—Current market value
—needs leases or production documents related to the asset

13. Money owed by spouse (including any expected federal or state income tax refund but not including receivables connected with any business)

14. Household furniture, furnishings and Fixtures
—photos
—purchase receipts and documents

15. Electronics and computers including software and hard drive

16. Antiques, artwork and collectibles (including works of art, paintings, tapestry, rugs, crystal, coin or stamp collections) Other large collections need to be appraised! (Guns, quilts, action figures, books)

17. Miscellaneous sporting goods and firearms

18. Jewelry including appraisals

19. Animals and livestock

20. Farming equipment

21. Club Memberships

22. Safe deposit box items

23. Burial plots including documents of ownership

24. Items in any storage facility

25. Travel Awards Benefits (including frequent flyer miles)