The Business of Divorce


The Business of Divorce

Jane considered herself a single mom.  Her husband, Bill, was a physician working late each night, overnights and most weekends.  He ran a successful practice and was rewarded for his hard work with a six figure salary.  Jane was employed as a nurse when she met her husband.  They got married and shortly thereafter Jane became pregnant.  The parties welcomed a daughter and, four years later, a son.  Jane and Bill decided that Jane would stay home and take care of their children.  Bill continued to work 70-80 hours a week in the practice.  Bill started a partnership with his brother, also a physician, and they began selling vitamin supplements.  Bill’s vitamin business took off and soon he was making almost $1,000,000 per year.  Bill became increasingly distant and Jane found out he was having an affair.  She asked him to leave their residence and filed for divorce.  Jane has not worked outside of the home since the parties were married and her nursing license is not up to date.  She has remained in the home with the two children, who are now 12 and 8 years old respectively.  Throughout the parties’ marriage Bill controlled all of the finances.  Jane only has access to one small checking account.  She does not know about any of the parties’ assets.  Bill has only seen the children a few times since he left the residence.

This story may not have the salacious details of many of my cases, but the fact pattern is all too familiar.  There are many reasons that marriages fail including falling out of love, differences in parenting styles, excessive spending by one spouse, addiction, criminal behavior and mental health issues.  Getting to the root of why someone is pursuing divorce is important and gives insight into the mindset of both parties.  Is someone going to be vindictive in the divorce litigation because of an affair?  Is guilt about the failure of the marriage going to lead one party to agree to a less-than-equal settlement?  Is one party going to attempt to put the children in the middle of the litigation – intentionally or unintentionally?  Many people I meet in this line of work are, sadly, holding on to painful incidents that happened months and even years ago in their relationships.  These incidents get repeated over and over throughout litigation, particularly in custody cases, preventing both parties from putting the past hurts aside to do what is best for themselves and their children.

This hypothetical scenario raises several issues for a family law attorney.  In the context of the divorce, a value of Bill’s interest in the business will need to be determined.  This will likely need to be done by an expert.  Without any access to marital funds, Jane will need to file for child support and alimony pendente lite.  She may also need to request an interim distribution to cover her attorney’s fees and any expert fees, should she need her own forensic business valuation.

As for custody, Jane has clearly been the primary caregiver for the minor children since birth.  Bill’s extremely busy schedule may be an impediment to him immediately receiving 50/50 custody.  It is certainly possible for Bill to achieve that if he desires, but it may take quite a while for him to get to that point.  Any custody determination must take into account all sixteen custody factors.

Support will also need to be determined.  While Jane be imputed an earning capacity?  Are there any retained earnings for Bill’s business that may affect how much of his income is available for support?  Will Jane be able to keep the house and pay for the mortgage with the amount of support she is granted?

All of these questions and more require the expertise of a family law attorney.  At LaMonaca Law, you will have a team of attorneys tailored to the facts of your specific case.  To schedule a consultation today, click or call 610-892-3877.

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The information above is provided for general information purposes only. It may not represent the current law in your particular jurisdiction. Nothing in this post is to be viewed as advice from LaMonaca Law or the individual author. It is not to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No one reading this post should act or refrain from acting based on the above information or information accessible through this post without first seeking the appropriate legal counsel on the particular facts and circumstances of one’s particular case from an attorney licensed to practice in one’s own state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction. Any information contained within is not about nor does it include any facts about any particular client of LaMonaca Law or the individual author.

About the author

About Melissa Towsey

Melissa graduated from the University of Virginia in 2002 with a double major in Sociology and Foreign Affairs. After working for several years as a paralegal in Washington, D.C., she attended The University of Villanova School of Law and graduated in 2010. During law school, Melissa was involved in several public interest organizations and published an article in Villanova’s Environmental Law Journal, “Something Stinks: The Need for Environmental Regulation of Puppy Mills” 21 Vill. Envtl. L.J. 159 (2010) After law school, Melissa clerked for the Honorable Thomas G. Parisi, Administrative Judge of the Criminal Division in the Court of Common Pleas, Berks County. Melissa is the supervising attorney of the firm’s Appellate Unit. The Appellate Unit handles all aspects of the appellate process for family law cases as well as advanced research within the firm. Melissa and her husband, Paul, reside in Montgomery County with their two cats Wembley and Gobo. In her spare time, she enjoys audiobooks, barbeques, and watching action movies.