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Divorces are one of the most emotionally taxing experiences that a person can go through. This is especially true when a couple is unable to agree on how assets should be divided and the property in question is difficult to value. Spouses who are joint business owners, for example, face unique challenges, as it can be difficult to obtain a clear cut and accurate business valuation, while also deciding who should retain control of the business. Fortunately, experienced complex property division attorneys can help parties navigate these issues, while also ensuring that their clients’ interests are protected.
While dividing up the contents of a bank account can be relatively straightforward, some assets are extremely difficult to divvy up during a divorce. Some of the assets that have proven most challenging to courts include:
Like all of a couple’s assets, this type of property must be categorized as either community or separate property prior to division.
This is an important distinction because in Michigan, community property, or marital property, must be divided equitably between the parties upon divorce. Separate property, on the other hand, which includes assets that were obtained prior to marriage, does not have to be divided. Instead, they are considered the sole property of the party who received or purchased them before the wedding. Unfortunately, the question of ownership is not always so cut and dried. For instance, a party may have purchased a business prior to the marriage, but since that time, his or her spouse has contributed time and money to the company, which has increased in value. In these cases, although the asset technically qualifies as separate property, the other spouse could be granted a portion of the increase in value of the asset. Valuing the asset, however, is often easier said than done.
Before a court can award either party a degree of ownership over a particular asset, a couple will need to submit an accurate estimate of the property’s value. For example, when the property in question is a business interest, a business valuation expert will need to be brought in to assess the company’s financial records before providing an estimate of value. This analysis also often includes an assessment of the potential future earnings of a company, which can have a significant impact on how much each party is able to recover. Stocks, antiques, and family heirlooms must also be valued, and any increase in value that has occurred since their purchase must also be calculated. This process can be made even more difficult if the items have personal value to both parties.
Please call Iafrate & Salassa at (586) 263-1600 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney who can assess your case. We look forward to addressing your divorce-related questions and concerns.