Ridout Barron


How business owners can deal with high net worth divorce disputes

When the wealthy owners of successful businesses in Alberta divorce, there will undoubtedly be concern about its effect on the company. Regardless of whether one or both spouses are involved in the business, financial issues may arise in any high net worth divorce. Along with the divorcing spouses, business partners will naturally also want to limit any adverse effects.

Under Canadian family law, each spouse is entitled to half of the business value, even if only one of them is an owner, or owns shares in it. Disputes may arise when it comes to the valuation of the business. Accepted methods exist for such assessments. However, due to the prevalence of subjective factors, non-owners often challenge the valuation obtained by the owner spouse.

In most cases, both spouses rely on experts to evaluate the business. Nevertheless, even in separate valuations, the methods used and the findings reached could be challenged. Sometimes, such challenges develop into separate disputes in which each valuator defends his or her methods and conclusions. If this dispute ends in a deadlock, the matter will go to court.

All these divorce disputes add to the cost of the divorce, and fighting over whom to hold responsible for the legal fees can create additional concerns. For business owners in Alberta who consider filing for a divorce, it makes sense to be proactive and consult with an experienced business law lawyer even before talking to a divorce lawyer. Having a business law attorney as a part of the legal support team in a high net worth divorce may prove crucial.

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Ridout Barron

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