I started a business and gave my wife a large ownership stake; however, I am now considering divorce.
Is there any way I can simply give her half our assets and keep the business for myself?
She also seems to fit the description of a dependent spouse — is there any way to avoid alimony?
In Pennsylvania, there is no default 50-50 division of marital assets and debts in a divorce.
Therefore, it is in the court’s discretion as to the percentages assigned to each marital asset and marital debt.
Oftentimes, in this state, division of the marital estate is skewed in the dependent spouse’s favor.
That being said, the parties can agree to whatever terms they see fit, including a waiver of claims to a business.
If the parties are not in agreement as to division of the business, then a business valuation will need to be performed.
While the specific factors your state relies on may be different, Pennsylvania law looks to some of the following in determining an award for alimony:
- The relative earnings and earning capacities of the parties;
- The sources of income of both parties;
- The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage;
- The relative education of the parties and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment;
- The relative assets and liabilities of the parties;
- The contribution of a spouse as a homemaker;
- The relative needs of the parties; and
- Whether the party seeking alimony is incapable of self-support through appropriate employment.
As with equitable distribution of the marital estate, the parties may agree to waive alimony. Otherwise, the general rule of thumb is that one year of alimony is awarded for every three years of marriage.
Alimony, in general, terminates upon the dependent spouse’s cohabitation, remarriage or death.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than tips on your situation, so please consult a domestic litigation attorney in your area to obtain specific advice as to the laws in your state and how they impact your potential case.
Mat Camp is a former Lexicon Services Online Editor, who focused on providing a comprehensive look into all aspects of the divorce experience. On MensDivorce.com, he concentrated on issues, such as parenting time, custodial rights, mediation, the division of assets, and so much more.
Mr. Camp used the wealth of experience of Cordell & Cordell attorneys to bring tangible answers to reader questions in Ask a Lawyer articles, as well as offer a step by step process through the divorce experience with Cordell & Cordell Co-Founder and Principal Partner Joseph E. Cordell in Divorce 101: A Guide for Men.
Mr. Camp used thorough research to highlight the challenging reality that those who go through divorce or child custody issues face. He helped foster the continued success of the Men’s Divorce Survival Guide, the Men’s Divorce Podcast, and the Men’s Divorce YouTube series “Attorney Bites.”