These days, it is not unusual for both parties in a marriage to hold down jobs, sometimes quite lucrative jobs. You may be a bookkeeper or physician’s assistant with a slightly better than average income, but your spouse may be a well-paid business consultant or an officer in a large corporation.
How the court handles property division in your upcoming divorce will have much to do with business interests, especially in relation to your spouse’s work.
If your spouse is a corporate executive, (s)he probably has a complex compensation package. In addition to his or her salary, (s)he probably has stock and stock options, receives bonuses annually and, based on longevity as a company employee, may also have a long-term incentive plan. You will want to be sure that there is sufficient disclosure. Your attorney will want to know about any income sources and any forms of equity compensation that may continue after your divorce.
Your spouse may be an entrepreneur who has built a successful business of his or her own. You may not know how much (s)he really earns and the normal approach for an attorney is to examine financial records in order to verify income. Business owners want to minimize taxes. They can control both their expenses and, to some extent, their income. If you want alimony or child support, a professional can review financial documents including tax returns and make an adjustment to the income your spouse reports. Examples of some of the expenses that could be subject to adjustment include a utility bill, auto expense, meals and entertainment.
Sorting it all out
No matter how prepared for property division you think you are, the more complex the business interests that exist in the marriage, the more complex the division aspect will be. The first step is identifying assets that are marital property. With the help of your attorney, you can then begin to sort everything out and make sense of all the business-related property to which you may be entitled.