Los Angeles Executive Divorce Lawyer
The greater Los Angeles area is home to many business executives from the entertainment, fashion, and finance industries.
When a business executive faces the possibility of divorce, complex compensation packages can put both spouses – and any children – at risk during the divorce process. The Los Angeles business executive divorce lawyers at Furman & Zavatsky have extensive experience with executive divorces and complex financial matters. If you or your spouse is a business executive, we can protect your legal interests during this difficult time.
What's Different When a Business Executive Gets Divorced?
California is a community property state. This means that – unless a couple has agreed otherwise – both spouses are equally entitled to all forms of employment compensation earned by either spouse. When an employee is paid at a set rate (hourly, bi-weekly, salary, etc.) this is easily calculated. However: business executives commonly receive a wide variety of alternate compensation for their work. At divorce, all forms of compensation are subject to division. This can lead to complicated issues such as:
- Business valuation: If the business executive started his or her own firm during the marriage, the value of that business is a community asset, and each spouse is entitled to half of the value. Business valuations are a complex mix of assets, liability, goodwill, actual and projected growth, and a host of other market variables. A good divorce attorney will employ a skilled business evaluator to assess the true value of the business and ensure that its value is fairly allocated in a divorce.
- Equity valuation: Many executives receive equity in their firm or company as a form of compensation for their employment. This, too, is a community asset which must be divided in divorce. Even simple stock equity in a publicly-traded company can cause bitter arguments in the courtroom. What if the stock has recently undergone significant value changes? What if the spouses disagree on when they intended to live separate and apart? (This changes the date the community property ended, and thus the date the stock was subject to liquidation.) And of course, many equity packages are not simple transactions of stock. These become even more difficult to place a dollar value upon.
- Bonuses: If a bonus is earned for work done during the marriage, it is considered community property. Some bonuses are a projection for work to be done (or an incentive for the employee to stay with the company), and there are not necessarily community property. Some bonuses are a combination. Any ambiguity in your bonus structure allows an attorney to argue that it is or is not community property, as benefits your position (or your spouse's position).
An Experienced Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer Will Protect Your Rights
High-net-worth divorces can often become extremely acrimonious when there are significant assets on the line. For this reason, it is important for anyone who is a party to a business executive divorce to speak with a Los Angeles divorce lawyer as soon they can. Retaining a divorce attorney early in the process can have a significant impact on the way the case is resolved, as your lawyer will advise you how to protect your rights and represent you in any communications you have with your spouse (or their attorney) or the court.
It is important to understand that it is advisable to retain a divorce attorney even if you believe that you and your spouse will be able to agree on the issues that need to be resolved before your divorce can become final.
This is because divorces often become contested with little warning and even when both parties enter into negotiations with good intentions. A default divorce occurs when the non-filing spouse (respondent) fails to file a response to the divorce petition filed by the person filing for a divorce.
In addition, do not simply assume that the fact that you have a prenuptial agreement will control the way that your divorce is resolved. These kinds of agreements are highly regulated by state law and are often deemed unenforceable because of the circumstances that existed at the time that they were executed. As a result, if you have a prenuptial agreement that contains terms that you find unfavorable, you should be sure to have it reviewed by a lawyer familiar with California family law.
Call a Los Angeles Executive Divorce Attorney
Business executives face complex financial matters which can complicate the divorce process and damage the financial interests of one or both spouses and those of any children to the marriage. The experienced Los Angeles family law attorneys at Furman & Zavatsky will fight for you and protect your professional and financial interests at every stage of the divorce process. Call 818-528-3471 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation today.