Business owners in California face countless concerns when it comes to keeping their operations profitable. Unfortunately, many private business owners experience unexpected complications in their personal lives that have profound impacts on their business operations. Divorce is one of the most common of these issues. If you are an Orange County business owner, it is crucial to know how you can protect your business if you intend to end your marriage at any time in the near future.
The Law Offices of Lisa R. McCall provide a full range of legal services in Orange County family court, including divorces involving small business owners. Whether you are facing a complex high net-worth divorce or are simply concerned for the future of your business as you head into dissolution proceedings, we can help. Our firm has assisted many business owners in the area with all manner of family law cases, and we are ready to leverage this experience on your behalf.
What Does Divorce Entail in Orange County?
Divorce is more than just ending your marriage contract; it is also the legal process of dividing the property you and your spouse own and control. California is one of nine US states that enforces the community property rule for divorce. This law states that all the property a couple owns becomes subject to a completely even division in divorce. Essentially, any income earned by both spouses during the marriage, any property purchased by either or both spouses during their marriage, and investment accounts acquired or appreciated during the marriage are all subject to 50/50 division in divorce.
Many find the community property law overbearing and overly strict, especially business owners. Depending on when you opened your business, it is possible that your business assets and the rights to the business itself qualify as community property in a divorce. Alongside the issue of property division, a divorcing couple in Orange County will also need to resolve child custody and support, spousal support, and other issues unique to their situation. Ultimately, all of the financial issues that divorce entails can be overwhelming, especially for a business owner.
When you have the Law Offices of Lisa R. McCall representing you in your divorce, we have the resources and experience necessary to help you reach the best possible outcome to your current situation. Every business owner faces unique challenges and financial concerns. Facing a divorce is already very demanding when you must handle your business operations as well. Our firm will help you review your financial records and determine the best course of action for preserving your business ownership rights in your divorce.
Dividing a Business in an Orange County Divorce
Your business qualifying as community property in your Orange County divorce means that you and your spouse will each retain half of the business’s value in your divorce settlement. However, this does not necessarily mean that your spouse will control half of your business or be entitled to half of your business’s profits. There are a few ways to negotiate a solution that will allow you to keep your business.
After you and your spouse have completed the financial disclosure process and submitted all required financial records to the family court, you can then determine an appropriate distribution of community property that meets the state’s requirement for 50/50 division while allowing you to retain full control over your business. For example, if half your business is valued at $500,000 and your marital home is worth about the same amount, your spouse may be agreeable to keeping the house while you keep the business. Every divorce is unique, and there are other ways to negotiate this sort of arrangement.
Your Orange County divorce attorney can provide specific guidance based on the unique details of your situation. Depending on when you established your business, the total value of the business, and whether your spouse contributed to maintaining or operating the business in any way, you could have more options for retaining control over your enterprise than you initially expected.
Proactive Defense for Your Business in Orange County
Unfortunately, if you started your business after you married, your business likely automatically qualifies as community property under California law. However, if you own a business and have not yet married, taking a few steps to protect your business can pay off tremendously in the future. Working with an experienced Orange County divorce attorney is the best option for this situation, and they will help you develop a uniquely tailored legal strategy that improves your chances of meeting your goals.
The best method of protecting your business from a future divorce is by creating a prenuptial agreement with your spouse-to-be. While many people assume that the suggestion for a prenuptial contract indicates a lack of faith that the marriage will last, this is not necessarily true, and many couples find that developing their prenuptial contracts improves communication, provide financial security and peace of mind, and enable them to cover difficult topics early in their relationship before they have the chance to evolve into major problems.
A prenuptial contract outlines each spouse’s property division and supports rights if they divorce in the future. Essentially, your prenuptial agreement can be configured to ensure that you retain control over your business assets if you and your spouse divorce in the future. Alternatively, if you have already married and started a business, you and your spouse may create a postnuptial agreement that accomplishes the same goal.
If you are unsure of the best available options for protecting your business from divorce, or if you have already started dissolution proceedings and are worried about the impact the divorce could have on your business, it is crucial that you speak with an experienced Orange County divorce attorney as soon as possible. They can provide you with specific guidance that addresses your concerns, help you develop an effective strategy for approaching your divorce, and help you understand any unique legal mechanisms in play in your case.
Q: What Property Must Be Divided in an Orange County Divorce?
A: The community property law in California applies to any and all property acquired during a marriage or through the use of marital assets. However, each spouse is allowed to keep separate properties. This includes inheritance from their parents or other blood relatives, gifts they received during their marriage, anything their spouse gave them in a “donatory” capacity, and any property owned prior to their marriage.
Q: What Is the Transmutation of Separate Property?
A: While the community property law in California allows divorcing spouses to keep their separate property, it is possible for some separate property to “transmute” into the marital property under certain conditions. For example, if one spouse owned a home prior to marriage but the other spouse paid for renovations that improved the resale value of the home, the home would likely qualify as community property due to their efforts. The same could apply to a business you owned prior to marriage if your spouse improved the business’s value in any way.
Q: How Long Does Divorce Take in Orange County?
A: The divorce process can be exceptionally long, especially when the divorcing spouses cannot compromise on certain aspects of the case. Your Orange County divorce attorney can help you identify the greatest areas of concern in your case, and they can also provide an estimate of how long your divorce may take to conclude. Remember that California enforces a mandatory six-month waiting period for divorce, so even if you and your spouse agree to an uncontested divorce, you must wait six months for it to finalize and receive your divorce order.
Q: How Much Does an Orange County Divorce Attorney Cost to Hire?
A: Most family law attorneys in Orange County charge hourly rates for their representation. This means that the longer your attorney spends working on your case, the higher your legal fees will be. However, it is possible for one spouse to bear liability for the other spouse’s legal expenses if they engaged in fraud or if they directly caused the breakdown of the marriage through abuse or any criminal misconduct. Make sure you understand your chosen attorney’s billing policy before agreeing to their representation.
Q: Can I Change a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Contract in Orange County?
A: Yes, it is possible to make amendments to your existing prenuptial or postnuptial contact in Orange County as long as both you and your spouse agree to the proposed changes. If you need to amend your current agreement, consult your Orange County divorce attorney, and they can assist you in implementing the changes required. It is also a good idea to periodically review and revise your prenuptial or postnuptial contract as your financial situation evolves over tim.
Tehe Law Offices of Lisa R. McCall have the legal experience you need on your side when facing a complex divorce. We have represented many business owners and helped them protect their businesses from the financial fallout of divorce. We can leverage our resources and skill on your behalf. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an experienced Orange County divorce attorney and learn more about the professional family law services we offer.