If your spouse is also one-half of your professional practice, divorce carries significant risk to your livelihood. New York’s family laws divide property on an equitable basis, and that will extend to your business. To have an idea of what that will look like, you will want to answer a few basic questions:
What kind of corporate structure did you have?
If you start a business of any kind, you may choose to incorporate. Incorporation provides significant liability protections and makes the company its own entity, separate from you and your ex. There are many corporate structures, and each one will mean something slightly different for your divorce and the future of your practice.
What assets the business’s assets?
In a professional practice, you may have equipment or software that allows you to run your office. You may own office space or vehicles. You may even have stationary. Your customer list may be an asset. Anything that helps your business and has worth is an asset and you must keep a record of it.
What are your contributions?
How much work did you put into the business versus your spouse? Do clients prefer to work with you or your ex? If you took a leadership role in the business, managing the finances and doing the heavy, day-to-day lifting of the business side of the practice, that could impact the final division.
What would a divided practice look like?
If you started your business with your spouse, removing them from the company or splitting the business up outright might vastly change your fortunes. What would happen with your client base in this case? What about your offices?
Do we need to split the practice?
The final question is much more personal: can you work with your ex? If you and your ex divorce amicably, you may be able to continue working together. Even a contested divorce does not preclude a working, business relationship. How your business will look when you’ve divorced depends on you.