High Asset Divorce

Knoxville High Asset Divorce Attorneys

When you need to split the business and the money, we keep it fair

We don’t have to tell you that divorce is complicated. You already know. Even if you and the ex are on speaking terms, when it comes to splitting up assets and property, things can get touchy – especially if there’s a lot to split up. And, if you two spent your marriage as partners in life and in business, well, there’s even more assets and more complications when it comes to protecting your fair share.

Dividing up assets in a divorce isn’t easy. You will hear words like “business valuation, categorizing marital and separate assets, equitable division” – but what does it all mean? What you don’t know CAN hurt you, but don’t worry –we will make sure you understand everything and walk you through the process step by step in order to make sure that you have all the information you need to be able to make the right decisions for you and your family.  Good for you both during your marriage, but not so good when you have to split it all up. Here at LaFevor & Slaughter in Knoxville, our divorce attorneys help local Tennesseans and business owners keep what’s theirs. We’ll protect you, your business, and your future.

The more you have, the more you need to fight

You’ve worked hard: you stayed up late, worked weekends, gave up time with your family so that you could build a life you could both be proud of. Just because you are getting divorced doesn’t mean you should have to sacrifice what you spent a lifetime putting together. We’ll work hard to make sure you leave with your fair and equitable share. Tennessee is an equitable distribution state. What that means is all of your stuff will be divided fairly, but not necessarily 50/50, between you and your spouse. If y’all have spent your marriage collecting a lot of valuable things, or if you’ve built a business together, you have a lot to untangle. We can help divorcing couples with asset division like:

  • Bank accounts
  • Executive compensation plans
  • Family-owned businesses and/or shares
  • Pensions, retirement plans and 401Ks
  • Military retirement accounts
  • Real estate, including vacation homes and rental properties, in Tennessee or around the world
  • Stock options
  • Trust funds
  • Valuable collections of arts, antiques, classic cars, etc.

This is a very nuanced area of the law, and a single mistake can cost you thousands of dollars, so you need to work with people who know what they’re talking about. For example, did you know there are at least three different methods to value a business that are recognized by Tennessee courts? You want to make sure you pick the right valuation method for your case. Just choosing the wrong way to determine your company’s worth could be an expensive mistake. Or how about “goodwill?” There are two types in Tennessee: personal goodwill and enterprise goodwill. One is divisible in a divorce, one isn’t. Make sure you hire somebody who knows the difference. We also work with third-party professionals to make sure we find all sources of income and that they’re properly reported and documented. If your spouse is hiding assets, don’t stress out – our job is to find them.

What about alimony? Who is going to have to pay and how much are they going to have to fork over?

In a high-asset divorce, spousal support is gonna be a thing… probably a BIG thing. During the divorce process, a judge might award temporary support to one spouse. Post-divorce, one spouse may be awarded alimony by the court. Who provides and who receives this support depends on a variety of factors, which include:

  • Ages and health of each spouse
  • Both spouse’s contribution to the marriage
  • Length of the marriage
  • Paying spouse’s income
  • Supported spouse’s earning capacity
  • Your marital standard of living

We’ll explain alimony laws to you so they make sense, and ensure that everything in your divorce is handled fairly.

What if I think my spouse is hiding assets? Is that even legal?

Nope, it’s not legal. If you think your ex might be trying to squirrel away income and assets until after the divorce, look for some of these red flags. We’ll investigate, figure out what’s going on, and take the appropriate action.

  • More cash, less paycheck. Does your spouse suddenly have a lot of pocket cash, but their paycheck or bank account is lower? This could indicate that they’re trying to hide money by having their boss or company pay them under the table, so they don’t have to report their true income to the court.
  • Giving away valuables. Your ex all of sudden getting generous with their stuff? Like, too generous? One way to hide assets is by gifting away valuable things like jewelry, motorcycles, art – you get the gist – and then have the items gifted back to them after the divorce is over.
  • Sudden expensive purchases. Lawyers call this “converting cash to property,” and here’s what it means. Your spouse buys a bunch of expensive stuff with cash, and during the asset division part of the divorce, they totally understate the value of that stuff. Then, after the divorce, they sell it all back at its original value, which converts it all back to cash.
  • Hiding assets in the business. Is your spouse a professional with their own practice? Are they suddenly not paying themselves as much and leaving money in the practice?  This is another very common way people attempt to hide assets in the divorce if they believe the business is not subject to be divided in a divorce action.

Depending on the circumstances, hiding assets can actually result in criminal penalties. Be careful you don’t make any unintentional mistakes, and be careful you don’t lose out on what’s rightfully yours. The team at LaFevor & Slaughter can help.

We own a couple Tennessee businesses together. How do we divide them?

Dividing one business in a divorce, let alone two or three, is complicated. You’ll have assets and debts to take into account, plus determining the value of your businesses. Our attorneys will look at things like the value of the real estate, the total of your debts, and what your current cash flow’s like.

As for what you want to do with the business – well, that’s up to you. Maybe one of you wants to keep it and one doesn’t, which means one partner can buy the other out. Or you can liquidate one or all of the businesses and split the proceeds. Finally, if there’s contention around ownership or division, our attorneys can step in to advocate, negotiate, or litigate for your best interests and your fair share.

Wedding Rings

How do I figure out the value of our Knoxville business?

When determining the full value of your business (business valuation), we take a whole bunch of factors into account. For example, a sole proprietorship is valued differently than a professional practice, a partnership or a corporation. The more people involved in the business? The more complicated it gets. If you and your spouse opened your business with other people, it’s gonna be a lot more complex than if it was just you and your ex. But you don’t have to do this on your own.

Our attorneys do the hard work for you, plus the IRS offers guidelines for finding the true value of a business. When performing a business valuation, the IRS requires its valuators to analyze the following:

  • The nature of the business and the history of the enterprise from its inception
  • The economic outlook in general and the condition and outlook of the specific industry in particular
  • The book value of the stock or interest and the financial condition of the business
  • The earning capacity of the company
  • The dividend-paying capacity
  • Existence or non-existence of goodwill or other intangible value
  • Sales of the stock or interest and the size of the block of stock to be valued
  • The market price of stocks or interests of corporations or entities engaged in the same or a similar line of business having their stocks or interests actively traded in a free and open market, either on an exchange or over-the-counter
  • Other relevant information

This process can take a while, but it needs to done right. Often, marital assets can get mixed up with business assets during the course of the marriage, and if this isn’t documented correctly, you or your spouse can unintentionally end up in hot water.

When you work with LaFevor & Slaughter, we help you make sense of the asset division process. We aim to make the process as smooth and efficient as possible, and offer custom strategies for the small business owner and high-wealth client.

Knoxville business and asset division attorneys working for you

Are you making too many concessions when it comes to dividing your assets? Afraid you’re going to lose your part of the family business? You don’t have to. At LaFevor & Slaughter, we can help you protect what’s rightfully yours. To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, call us at (865) 637-6258 or fill out our contact form today.