Portland Divorce Attorneys for Family Business

Portland Divorce Attorneys for Family Business

In any Oregon divorce, property distribution requires considerable time and attention. Property distribution can become complex, even contentious when family businesses and similar assets are involved. Your emotional investment in your family business becomes an additional consideration in the distribution of property.

At Gearing, Rackner & McGrath, our Oregon and Washington family law attorneys understand that distributing a family business at divorce is challenging. We’ll help you and your family resolve issues related to the family business and reach a solution.

Property Distribution in Oregon

Oregon is an equitable distribution state. In Oregon, family law courts do not automatically divide a divorcing couple’s assets fifty-fifty.

Instead, the court considers several factors to determine how to divide the assets in a way that leaves the two divorcing spouses on roughly equal footing. Factors a court may consider when dividing assets in an Oregon divorce include:

  • How long has the couple been married?
  • How much longer does each spouse have to work and build wealth?
  • What are the health, income, education, and employability statuses of each person?
  • How much has each person contributed financially to the marriage, and in what ways?

In addition, Oregon family law divides property into two broad categories: Separate property and marital property. Separate property is property one spouse brought into the marriage or received during the marriage as an individual, such as an inheritance. Marital property is property acquired during the marriage, which courts will assume belongs to both parties.

Generally, separate property stays with the spouse to whom it belongs, while marital property is divided. Courts may look into dividing separate property if doing so produces a more equitable result, however.

Questions for Divorcing Couples With a Family Business

When a couple divorces, splitting a family business raises additional questions. Many family businesses are marital property. Businesses started by one spouse before the marriage or funded by one spouse, however, also raise questions about separate property.

When a divorcing couple has a family business, several important questions arise.

What was each spouse's relationship with the family business?

Providing startup capital or periodic investments is one way for a spouse to contribute to a family business - but it is not the only way. Oregon courts will also consider the amount of work each spouse has put into the family business.

What is the business worth?

Valuing the business is a key part of any property division process involving family businesses. An independent valuation can settle disputes about the value of the business, providing foundational information for the parties to work from.

A valuation will examine factors like the business’s past earnings, its projected performance, and its current balance sheet.

Are there other owners or interested parties in the family business?

Some family businesses are owned solely by a married couple. Others have additional owners, investors, shareholders, or additional interested parties. When others’ interests will be affected by property division decisions, determining how to handle the family business during a divorce becomes even more complicated - and calls for the reasoned assistance of an experienced high-net-worth divorce lawyer.

Does a prenuptial agreement exist, and if so, does it address the family business?

A prenuptial agreement will typically supersede the default property division rules unless one party successfully argues that the agreement should not apply. A prenuptial agreement that includes instructions about the family business can answer questions and provide guidance.

Often, a couple’s financial situation and life circumstances change over time. Your current situation may be substantially different than the two of you anticipated when you created the prenuptial agreement. In this case, an Oregon attorney can help you determine how or whether the prenuptial agreement applies to the family business you now have.

Should we continue running the family business as usual?

Some couples can continue working as business partners even if they are no longer compatible as spouses. In this situation, the two may decide not to divide the business. This solution is only realistic, however, if the divorce itself is an amicable one.

Contact an Oregon High Net Worth Divorce Attorney

The family law attorneys at Gearing, Rackner & McGrath have experience with the intricacies of high net worth divorce, including the complexities of dividing or otherwise providing for a family business. Our award-winning legal team is dedicated to serving each of our clients with sensitivity and skill.

If you are weighing how to split assets with your former spouse, contact the experienced attorneys at Gearing, Rackner & McGrath today. To learn more about our services, call us at (503) 222-9116 or use our online contact form to schedule a confidential consultation.