Joanne Major, Principal at Major Family Law, the Divorce and Family Law Specialists, responds to a weekly question and answer column in the Journal as follows:
I have been married for 10 years and my wife and I are likely to split up. Can she get half my business (a limited company) as part of the divorce? She has never worked in the business and has no role in it all. We have no children.
Generally, the family courts don’t make orders to sell a business that is doing well, this is referred to as “killing the goose that lays the golden egg”. Given the length of your marriage, your wife will have an interest in the value of the business; this may be 50% or less, depending on the facts of your case. As she has had no financial interest or role in the business then the court probably wouldn’t transfer a shareholding in the business to her either. It is a good idea to get some tailored legal advice on this issue as there is no straightforward formula or calculation to apply. If you came to see me for advice, I would want to know a detailed history of the business, including when you set it up and if this was before you met your wife or after. These details will affect the advice you are given about the strength of any claim by your wife against your business.
Joanne Major is the Principal at Major Family Law, the Divorce and Family Law Specialists, 12 West Road, Ponteland, Newcastle upon Tyne. T: 01661 82 45 82 www.majorfamilylaw.co.uk. Twitter: @majorfamilylaw