Closely Held Businesses

Ownership of a closely held business by one or both spouses can lead to complex issues in a divorce. As an Ohio family law attorney for more than 25 years, Rick Marks has extensive experience with addressing the legally and factually challenging issues a business can pose for divorcing couples. Rick assists clients in Portage County and Summit County.

Experience and Practice Approach

In 1995, Rick Marks co-founded Marks & Chandler Co., L.P.A. with his wife, Beth Chandler-Marks. From the beginning, the law firm focused exclusively on family law. After Beth transitioned her practice to education law, Rick continued Marks & Chandler as a solo practice law firm, which it remains today. His practice has always been limited to family law.

Rick understands that addressing ownership of a closely held business as part of division of property in a divorce can have significant consequences that affect your financial security. Since business ownership often presents complex legal, practical, and tactical questions, it can be extremely time-consuming, emotionally difficult, and stressful to navigate. Sound counsel and steady support throughout the process are essential.

Rick’s compassionate, client-centered approach includes close communication with you on an on-going basis. He makes certain that you understand all the legal and technical aspects of business property division, so you can make informed decisions on every question that arises. He also provides strong legal and moral support to minimize the stress of the situation. You can always reach Rick to ask questions or address concerns, including evenings and weekends.

The success of Rick’s approach to practice is demonstrated by the fact many of his clients come through referrals from former clients and other attorneys.

Equitable Division of Business Interests

In an Ohio divorce or dissolution, the equitable division principles apply to a business owned by either or both spouses. The marital property portion of the business must be addressed as part of property division. If the business existed before the marriage, significant issues may arise concerning the extent to which the business interest is marital property or separate property. Reaching agreement on the respective values can be a substantial obstacle, especially since separate and marital property can be commingled during the marriage, such as when spouses invest marital funds in a business separately owned by one spouse before the marriage.

Valuation of the business ownership interest is frequently necessary to address the property division questions. Analysis by an expert may be required. Since experts use several different ways to value business interests, it is possible to have competing and conflicting expert opinions on business valuation, which creates complex issues relating to division of the business assets.

Options for Division of Business Assets

The options available for addressing business assets in a divorce case depends significantly on the specific facts and circumstances relating to the business. Important factors that affect the possible outcomes include whether both spouses are actively involved in the business, as well as the actual nature and structure of the business itself.

Generally, there are three different options available for division of business assets. The first possibility is for one spouse to maintain ownership of the business. The other spouse receives different property equivalent to the value of their marital share of the business.

In some situations where both spouses have been actively involved in the business, it may be possible for spouses on amicable terms to continue co-ownership of the business. The terms of agreement in this case must be extremely clear, and should address each person’s responsibilities in detail. Including an option for one owner to buy out the other at some point in the future is a possibility.

If neither of the other options is feasible, a third possibility is for the parties to agree to sell the business to a new owner. The proceeds of the sale are then divided between the parties as part of the property settlement.

Which of these options may be workable in your situation is a subject for discussion with your divorce attorney. Exploring the possibilities is one of the first steps in addressing business ownership as part of the division of property.

Navigating Business Ownership in a Divorce

If a business is part of the assets involved in your divorce, representation by a divorce attorney who understands business division and valuation is essential. Rick Marks has the necessary experience to address the full range of issues relating to division of business interests in a divorce. His knowledge includes all the technical issues that arise, as well as the ability and skill to negotiate the details of an agreement relating to the business assets.

Negotiating an agreement relating to the business as part of the overall division of property, rather than leaving it up to the court to determine division of a business interest, is usually in your best interest. A trial takes more time and increases costs, in addition to yielding an unpredictable and potentially unsatisfactory result.

At every stage throughout the process, Rick provides you with advice and support. He is always available to answer your questions or address concerns. His on-going communication and compassionate approach minimize the anxiety and emotional stress that are natural during the process of dividing property in a divorce.

In settlement negotiations with the opposing attorney and in court proceedings that are part of the process, Rick provides vigorous, effective representation as your advocate. He works hard on your behalf to solve problems and find resolutions for issues. He protects your interests to the full extent necessary in order to achieve a result that is fair and reasonable. If an acceptable resolution does not come through negotiations, Rick represents you aggressively at trial, providing the court with detailed evidence and legal arguments to support your position.

Schedule a Consultation

To talk with Rick Marks about business ownership as part of division of property in a divorce or any other family law matter, please call (330) 677-9000 or use the online contact form. From his office in Kent, Rick assists clients in Portage County and Summit County.