Representing the Small Business Owner in New Jersey Divorce Court

By Santo Artusa on March 30, 2020

As a divorce attorney in New Jersey and a small business owner, I know what is at stake in a divorce in the New Jersey Family and Divorce Courts. To be a divorce lawyer you need a certain skill set and to represent business owners you also need another skill set to give them the best representation possible. Not knowing how to advise a small business owner in a divorce can lead the business owner/entrepreneur to terrible results. The divorce lawyer on the other side will try to sway the mediators or Judge that you make so much money, that it is so easy to make money, that the expenses you show are phantom or made-up expenses, that you totally control your destiny and should have to pay much higher alimony and child support numbers. Is that true? In some part yes, in some part no and definitely a no in having to pay way more in alimony and child support. 

Before I go into more details I will tell you the skill set a great divorce attorney for small business owners needs for their clients:

  1. Blunt Talk
  2. Toughness
  3. Critical Understanding of Business Taxation and Tax Returns
  4. Understanding of Business Volatility
  5.  Understanding of Critical Importance of Reserve Funds
  6. Tax Deferment Tactics
  7. Knowing Your Client's Schedule
  8. Pride

Why are those critically important skill sets for a divorce or family law attorney to have for small business clients? Think about it. You hire a lawyer that has never owned a business, never even was a 1099 contractor. You now have a lawyer that has no idea about what it takes to own a business and the pride, the passion, the love for your business. Or maybe you did or may hire a lawyer with a small business but is not a businessman, he is really an accidental businessman. What is the difference, why is it important? It is important because when your name is on the line, you will do anything to win, to be the best. You know what you've done to attain your status whether you own one business with $100,000 in revenue or 8 businesses with $7 million in profits and you will need someone to fight for you that knows the challenges of owning businesses. The lawyer should know about taxation, the volatility of owning a business, tax deferment strategies to use during the divorce or after to help you have retirement money. Understanding a client's schedule is also key. As a divorce lawyer that represents business owners, sometimes the 9 to 5 calls or meetings don't work. My celebrity and business clients need the 10 pm call or a 7 am call on a Sunday and wants your cellphone. The lawyer also needs to know about your schedule because if parenting time is an issue, I can relate and can help make a schedule you can handle to see your children. Does the lawyer at the small firm or accidental businessman understand that? Does that lawyer even have kids? 

Toughness. Your divorce lawyer needs to be tough. I am not talking about being tough to a Judge or even to the opposing divorce lawyer, I am talking about having to be tough with you.  Do You think it is easy to advise a successful businessperson, celebrity, athlete? Arrogance. Some have an arrogance and again, your lawyer must be tough with you to get the point across. I have to yell at clients to protect them. I have to chase them to protect them. I am tough and I will walk away from any client regardless of what they pay me if they do not want to work with me the right way and listen to me. We do not always have to agree on everything but we must discuss options as professionals do. It's not personal, its strictly business. I have to do what I have to do to limit your exposure and protect you. That is my job. 

Prior to being a lawyer I was always an "eat what you kill" type person as I was in sales, Wall Street, Consulting and business owner. I know what it is like to fight to get what you want. With that, I know how to fight for business owners going through family law or divorce cases in New Jersey. If you are one of these individuals, contact my Jersey City or Passaic office on 973-337-9643 or 201-706-3788. Until then, stay calm and focused, together we can do this. 

 

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