Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Divorce

Divorcing couples clearly do not want to remain marriage partners, much less business partners, but one Florida divorce court essentially made one ex-couple just that when it gave them equal ownership of a business operated by the husband. The husband appealed, and the recent appellate decision examines whether or not this was correct.

In Garrison v. Garrison, 4D17-3401 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018), the parties apparently had a contentious relationship as evidenced by the wife’s allegations that the husband fired her from his alleged closely-held business, denied her access to the business bank accounts and otherwise took away her control of the business. Despite this, the trial court determined the corporation was a marital asset and awarded each party an equal interest in the business. It further declined to assign a value to the business since each party was receiving an equal share of it.

By awarding each party an equal share of an ongoing business (rather than requiring one spouse to pay the other fifty percent of the value of the corporation, which was unknown since the court did not assign a value), the trial court essentially made the ex-spouses business partners. Prior Florida case law has held that requiring spouses to remain in business together creates an intolerable situation and is an abuse of discretion.

Thus the appellate court reversed this ruling, holding it was error for the court to distribute the corporation as it did and for the trial court to refuse to assign a value. The Florida Statutes require that a Florida divorce court identify, value and distribute marital assets - the failure to do so is reversible error. The trial court was instructed to value the corporation, distribute it to one spouse and create a distribution scheme that was fair and just to both parties.

You do not have to remain in business with your ex-spouse. If you have questions about what will happen to any business interests once you divorce, schedule a consultation with a Miami divorce lawyer.