Dividing the family business


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.  (WOTV) – When a spouse owns and operates a business and a divorce is filed, the functioning of the business suddenly becomes a very important element of the divorce. If the business provides income to the family, it can become a vital issue. Why? Because the spouse can use the business to manipulate property division by letting it run downhill so it is not worth as much as it has been during the marriage. If the business is suddenly “ about to close” after years of it being successful, or the owner suddenly “makes less money” or is going to “lose his job”, it may be that he is manipulating the books to put his wife in a vulnerable position.
The business can even be abandoned, as in the case of one of our clients, whose husband left the state, abandoned his business, and left his wife without the ability to run the business, pay creditors, or support herself and their children. The solution that her attorney, at DAWN, used to rescue the business, and thus the client, was to immediately ask the Court to appoint a receiver to take over and run the business. Receivers run your business, for the Court, while the divorce is in progress. The receiver was appointed and he was able to pay creditors, run the business and, eventually, liquidate inventory and our clientwas able to have a steady income for months while the divorce proceeded. By the time the receiver closed down the business, our client was receiving child and spousal support.

While it is possible that a receiver will find that your spouse’s business actually needs to be sold or liquidated, it is also possible that the receiver can stop a manipulated devaluation so that you get a fair and proper share of the business or its’ value. Therefore, if your spouse owns and runs a business, it is very important that you hire an attorney who is familiar with working with business owners and receivers. It can be a lifesaver during a difficult time and save you your fair share of the business.

Nothing herein constitutes legal advice.



(616) 957-3296

WOTV 4 women’s legal expert Gail Saukas

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