WHAT EVERY CORPORATE LAWYER SHOULD KNOW ABOUT FAMILY LAW

A family law attorney, in addition to being a zealous, strong and compassionate advocate, must also be able to resolve community property and support issues that may involve tax returns, business balance sheets and a variety of financial asset statements. The content of these documents, which corporate lawyers work with regularly, can often reveal an interesting story which, when presented by a skilled family law attorney to the court, potentially yields great results for the client. The following issues typify the types of concerns on which family lawyers and corporate attorneys often interface.

  • Buy-Sell Agreements. Buy-Sell Agreements may or may not be accepted by a family court as a means of determining the value of a business interest. Obtain a copy of the Buy-Sell Agreement and any amendments thereto for the family law attorney so necessary legal arguments can be crafted.
  • Business Operating Documents.  The ownership interest and governance standards of a business involved in a divorce must be known. While both spouses may have a financial interest in the business, it is not uncommon for one spouse to operate the business. Obtaining copies of the Articles of Incorporation, stock issuance register, operating agreements and similar operating documents from the corporate lawyer for the business is frequently necessary for a family lawyer.
  • Conflict of Interest. If parties are getting a divorce (as opposed to being unmarried and jointly having a child), whether or not you ever met the other spouse, you were acting on behalf of the community or marital estate if you rendered legal advice to the operating spouse of a family business. As a result, while you can be a repository of information during the family law matter, you have a conflict of interest that makes you unable to participate in the strategic divorce decisions for the spouse you had previously advised.
  • Corporate Counsel in the Family Law Matter. If you were not the corporate lawyer for one or both of the spouses during the marriage, then you may have been retained as the future corporate counsel or for purposes of litigation by the operating spouse of the. Your role will be to interface with the spouse who hires you and his or her family law attorney to make strategic decisions about the business issues and legal arguments concerning the Buy-Sell Agreement, stock ownership, corporate buy-back of stock, officer, owner and director liability, and the structure of the operating spouse’s buy-out of the community interest in the business.