Q: If I own or have an interest in a business will my spouse share in its value?
ANSWER: If the business was started or an interest in the business was acquired during the marriage, then your spouse will likely have an equitable interest in the value of the business or business interest. If ownership of the business predated the marriage or if you acquired your interest in the business through inheritance or gift, then your spouse may have an interest in the appreciated value (if any) of the business that accrued during the marriage if the appreciation was due to the active efforts of yourself or your spouse. An accountant will usually be retained to prepare that evaluation and there are many factors considered by the evaluator in making that determination. Once the value is determined, the next step is to determine what percentage of the value of the business should be used to calculate your spouse’s interest. There are many factors that a Court will take into account in arriving at that percentage, including but not limited to, the length of the marriage, your spouse’s contributions to the business, marital earnings or assets invested into the business, etc.