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Proving that an Appreciation of a Non-Marital Business Asset is a Marital Asset in Florida

When you are going through a divorce, there are a number of financial factors that will influence the outcome of your case. This is especially true if one of you or your spouse owns a business. Even if the business itself is a non-marital asset, there may be a portion of that business’ appreciation in value that is a marital asset, and that can have a substantial impact on the equitable distribution ordered in your case. Getting the most from your equitable distribution case may mean hiring business valuation experts and definitely means relying upon legal representation from an experienced Florida equitable distribution attorney.

Recently, the First District Court of Appeal addressed a case in which a non-marital business factored into the couple’s equitable distribution. Darla filed for divorce from Rodney in 2013 after six years of marriage. Rodney was the owner of his own business, an engineering firm bearing his name. Rodney had owned the business since 1995, more than a decade before he married Darla. The evidence that the spouses submitted showed that the business was profitable from 2007 to 2012, but it lost money in 2013. The trial judge assessed the business as having a positive value and included the amount of the business value’s enhancement in the couple’s equitable distribution.

The husband appealed, and he won. The outcome of Rodney and Darla’s case is a useful one for those who may be going through a divorce in which one or both spouses are owners of businesses that are not marital assets. If you find yourself in that position, and you believe that the value of that business has been enhanced as a result of your or your spouse’s marital efforts, it is essential to understand what you have to prove to the court.

Florida law says that you, as the party claiming that the business’ value was enhanced and that this enhancement was a marital asset, are the one who is obliged to prove the value of that enhancement. Proving this may involve retaining a business valuation expert who can give expert opinion testimony about the business’ value and appreciation.

In Darla’s case, she had the burden of proving the business’ appreciation, and the proof she gave to the trial court was not enough to demonstrate that the husband’s business had appreciated during the marriage, so the appeals court ruled that Darla was not entitled to any distribution based upon the value of the husband’s business. Darla’s lack of success points out the very high importance of making sure that you have the right amount and right kind of proof on your side to support the arguments that you’ve made, whether that means document evidence, expert witness testimony, or another form of proof.

Whichever issues are in dispute in your divorce case, you should rely upon experienced legal counsel to provide you with the representation that your case deserves. Your knowledgeable attorney can help you determine what your case needs in order to succeed and which type of evidence will help get you there. Miami divorce attorney Sara Saba has been providing reliable counsel and successful litigation strategies for her family law clients for more than 13 years. Contact us online or by calling (305) 450-8009 to schedule your consultation. Hablamos Español.

More blog posts:

Music Star Mary J. Blige’s Husband is Back in Court, Seeking an Increase in Alimony, Miami Divorce Lawyer Blog, Feb. 23, 2018

Dealing with Equitable Distribution in Florida as a Business Owner Going Through a Divorce, Miami Divorce Lawyer Blog, Feb. 16, 2018