While New York is an equitable distribution state, equitable does not mean equal. The process of valuing and dividing marital assets can be complex, particularly if there is a business involved.
For example, if your divorce settlement involves a start-up or company that was either in the family or owned outright by one spouse, or created as a business together, you first must complete a complex financial evaluation to determine its value.
An accurate business valuation is critical as it may bear significantly on the divorce case, even if it is awarded to one spouse or considered separate property. When dealing with separate property claims, it is important to remember that the burden of proof rests with the spouse making the separate property claim. Your attorney must also consider active and passive appreciation that may have occurred during the marriage.
Tracing separate property is not always easy but it is critical. Keep in mind that most banking institutions only maintain records for seven years, so the sooner you compile the records, the better chance you have of tracing your separate property. If you inherited a share in a business, you may have to value the business at the later of acquiring the business and the date of marriage, and then again at the time of your divorce action to determine the appreciation, if any, of the business asset. While the business may have been inherited, the appreciation may still constitute marital property.
As both a family law attorney and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Lisa Zeiderman has the financial expertise to assist in performing a complex financial evaluation of your business or professional holdings and to navigate through the ensuing divorce process accordingly. If the business is awarded to one spouse, for example, other property may be considered differently to balance and compensate for the value.