You did not work long hours and pour your blood, sweat, and tears into building a prosperous life with your spouse just to watch it disappear in the aftermath of a divorce. Whether you own your own business, practice as a physician, or have risen to the heights of your career path, you need to ensure your divorce does not cost you what you have earned.

At Kowalski Family Law in Madison, we have extensive experience representing men and women in divorces with large marital estates. We understand the unique issues that are present in such divorces and focus our efforts on resolving issues in a way that preserves as much as the marital estate as possible.

Identifying and Valuating Marital Assets

A spouse’s ownership interest in a business is often the most valuable asset in a divorce. In most cases, the owning spouse retains ownership of the business. The non-owning spouse does not obtain ownership. Instead, he or she receives compensation through other assets for the business value. The central question then, is properly valuing the business. This requires detailed review of historical financial statements, income tax returns, and governing documents, along with application of accepted accounting principles.

Business Valuation

It is never enough simply to review the business tax returns, or the owner’s personal returns. First, tax returns depend on the information the owner uses to complete them. If the owner did not disclose all income, or inaccurately listed expenses, the tax returns are useless. Second, tax returns only show income and expenses for tax purposes. Tax returns do not show the actual income that goes into the owner’s pockets. The returns also do not show the actual income available to the owner, even if it is not paid. The tax returns are a good start, but mainly serve to raise questions that a deeper review of business documents should answer.

We have extensive experience in determining the true income and value of a business, and have successfully represented both the business owner and non-owner spouses to ensure a fair outcome. Attorney Kowalski also served as the program chair for the Wisconsin State Bar presentation entitled: Determining Business Income and Valuation at Divorce.

The stakes are high when dividing property in a divorce where valuable assets are present. It is more important than ever to make sure there is an accurate valuation of assets such as:

  •  Stock portfolios
  • Real estate
  • Family or closely-held business
  • Professional practices
  • Luxury items
  • Valuables (jewelry, art collections, etc.)

Failure to identify or properly value one asset could result in a substantial financial loss as you emerge from your divorce. We provide a thorough accounting of such assets, working with professionals such as forensic accountants to uncover assets and make sure they are divided equitably under Wisconsin’s community property laws or according to the terms of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

Protect Your Rights and Your Assets

Call 608-709-5000 or contact us online today to schedule a consultation with our proven divorce and family law attorneys.