Business Owner Involved in a Family Law Dispute?
My name is Bruce Provan, I’m the Managing Director of Page Provan, Family and Fertility Lawyers. We are a specialist law practice in Brisbane, practicing exclusively in family and fertility law.
I want to talk today about separation for business owners. This is an area of particular interest for me because separation and property settlement for a business owner can be particularly difficult for them, more so than someone who is an ordinary wage earner.
The reason for that is that often the business forms a big part of the pool of property that’s available for distribution between the parties, and that could create problems. So for example, if one person wants to retain that business, the business may have to be valued and if that business represents a big part of the value of what the party’s own, it means that the other party is going to get most of the other assets.
But in some cases, it may mean that the business or at least the interest in the business has to be sold, which means that the business that the parties have worked so hard for will no longer exist. But another reason that it’s particularly difficult is if there’s other business partners.
What often happens is that someone going through a separation is distracted by the separation, they lose their focus in the business, they lose their energy and enthusiasm because they’ve got this distraction and it’s also taxing on their emotional health.
When this business partners involved, someone going through a separation really should talk to their business partners to explain what they’re going through and what this is going to mean for the business. It may mean, for example, that the business is going to be valued, that the business may have to open its books to an accountant so the business can be valued.
The other problem, of course, is that if someone’s not focused and putting all their energy into the business is that the business starts to struggle and one person is not pulling their weight, and that can lead to pressure from the other partners for them to either lift their game or get out of the business.
What can be particularly difficult is where you’ve got both parties who have been involved in the business. For example, what sometimes happens is that a person who’s got particular skills, such as a trades person, sets up a business, but their spouse comes involved in the business as perhaps a bookkeeper or a manager for the business.
So that when it comes time to separate, it inevitably means that one of them is going to have to find alternative employment because they both can’t continue in the business. What generally happens is the person with the skills such as the trades person is going to continue with the business, but they can’t continue to operate the business together, at least in the long term, and that means that the partner has to leave and basically obtain some other form of employment to be able to support themselves.
So that’s a particular area of interest of mine and I like to help business owners get through this particularly difficult time of their life, business valuations are complicated, often because there are companies and trusts involved and associated with that these complex tax issues. So for business owners, the process of going through a property settlement can be particularly problematic, but not only that, it can be long and expensive.
If I can assist you, please come and see me, my name is Bruce Provan, I’m the Managing Director of Page Provan, Family and Fertility Lawyers.