Some of the most contentious divorce battles have been fought over who get the family home, and participants provide a number of reasons why the court should give them the property. One question that sometimes comes up is whether a spouse's home business gives him or her an edge in this particular competition. Possibly, but it depends on two important factors. Here's what you need to know.
The Difficulty in Relocating the Business
One thing the court will consider when deciding whether a home business justifies showing preference to one spouse over another when awarding ownership of the family home is how difficult it would be to relocate the company. You may not get any consideration in this area if you own a virtual business (one completely operated online) and can run the company from anywhere.
On the other hand, if the home is integral to the company's operation (e.g. the home was redesigned to accommodate it or is part of the company's branding), the court is more likely to factor that in when deciding who has a greater stake in the property. Even then, though, you may have to prove that relocating the business somewhere else will do significant damage to the company.
For instance, if you operate a farm on the property to provide product for your homemade baby food business, trying to move it somewhere else can result in loss of assets (e.g. food in the ground) and customers.
It may be necessary to have a business valuation expert evaluate the importance of your home to the company and produce a report you can submit to the court. Be sure to discuss this issue with your attorney.
Who's the Owner/Operator of the Business
Another thing the court will look at is who owns/operates the business. You can make a pretty strong case that you need the home for your business if you're the only person who owns and runs the company, especially if you spouse doesn't have any claims that may trump yours (e.g. the person is the children's primary caretaker). As the sole business owner, it would appear that you need the home more than your spouse.
If your spouse is a joint owner in the business or plays a significant part in the company, however, that will make it harder for the court to choose one side over the other since you will both need the property to continue running the company.
Thus, if you are the sole owner/operator, you need to be prepared to prove your ex has little to no claim to the company to avoid finding yourself in a stalemate.
For help with this issue or other divorce concerns, contact a divorce attorney.