Q: I am in the middle of a divorce. My wife is a partner in a small engineering firm, and I am an elementary school teacher. She earns about twice what I do. I know that her interest in the engineering firm is worth something, as the firm owns an office building and lots of equipment. How can I determine what the business is worth for purposes of property settlement?

A: You are correct that most businesses have a value for purposes of property settlement. It can be difficult to place a value on a personal service businesses such as an engineering firm. You should talk to your attorney about hiring a business valuation specialist to review the financial records of the business and determine potential value for property settlement purposes. This can be a rather complex process, and business valuation specialists often require a substantial retainer, as a lot of work goes into this type of analysis. Because her income is much larger than yours, you will likely be a candidate for spousal support. That is because the business has two types of value: the income that it generates on a day-to-day basis, as well as the value of the assets if it were sold. You should talk to your attorney about the difference between these two aspects of value.

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