Valuation of Closely Held Businesses in Divorce Proceedings

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Valuation of Closely Held Businesses in Divorce Proceedings

Generally, divorce cases involving thorny property issues can be complicated to resolve. This especially is true when the marital estate includes a closely-held business. A closely-held business usually presents one of two scenarios in the divorce context. The business may be tied to one spouse who is responsible for the business’s success. Distribution of the business to one spouse often creates asset allocation and business valuation issues. It presents the problem of valuing the business and structuring the parties’ assets and liabilities in order to provide the other spouse with a comparably valued property distribution. If the business depends on the operating spouse’s good will and management, which many closely-held businesses do, then the true value can suffer under the emotional stress common in divorce even if the business is distributed to the key-person spouse. A business having one value when operated by the key-person spouse can have a far different value when distributed to the non-operating spouse.

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