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Ex-Crony Capitalism Beware: The Duty to Preserve the Family Business

Small businesses are the engine of the American economy. What if you are a Louisiana wife whose husband has run the family’s small business while you stayed home with the children or had the “day job” that provided financial stability? Can he close the doors, move the furniture and the inventory, raid the corporate account and start up a new company called “See Ya, Inc.”, as soon as he’s sued you for divorce?

The answer depends upon whether the business is community property. If the company was formed during your marriage (and you had noprenuptial agreement), there is a presumption that the business is community property. Spouses in possession of community property when a divorce petition is filed have an obligation to care for that property and preserve it. In this case, your ex will have a duty to preserve the family business.

Imagine that the business was your family home. The person left in the home could not vandalize it, set it on fire, or allow cattle to live in it. The same general principles apply to a community business. Although after filing for divorce your husband could begin a new business that would be his and his alone, he cannot act in a way that damages the success of the community business. You should do your best to monitor the family business if you separate and bring your concerns to your lawyer’s attention at the earliest opportunity.

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Love Knot or Not? How Does Moving Back In Affect Your Divorce?

TV personality Khloe Kardashian arrives to the “Burlesque” Los Angeles Premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on November 15, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage)

Khloe’ Kardashian may be considering an attempt at reconciliation with husband Lamar Odom according to the March 31, 2014 edition of US Weekly.  She bought Justin Bieber’s home in Calabasas, California and installed a place to play hoops.  Sources say that nothing has been done to move her divorce proceeding along. What will happen to her divorce lawsuit if she and Lamar live together again? 

How does moving back in affect your divorce petition? 

In Louisiana, a couple that has reconciled must file a new divorce petition if they later separate.  Whether or not a reconciliation has occurred is a question of fact.  Simply dating your spouse and even occasional sexual intercourse may not be enough to constitute a reconciliation. 

Courts do not want to discourage attempts by couples to return to married life by punishing them if they try and their attempts are unsuccessful.  A separated couple that lives together again in the manner of husbands and wives has probably lost its right to rely on an old divorce petition.  If you are thinking about whether to re-tie the knot, consider how tight you should make it.  You might get wrapped up again in a bad marriage.

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Necessity is the Mother of Invention – Avoid Poverty After Divorce

paper couple on broken dollar heart

Couples who separate, particularly those with children, almost uniformly experience a decrease in their living standards.  Costs of housing and utilities are no longer shared.  Each person must bear 100% of those expenses.  For women, who often make less money than men, this is a serious problem. 

Child support and temporary spousal support (assuming you are married) often fail to make up for the decline in resources that occurs upon separation.  Furthermore, those payments do not start automatically.  Unless your partner agrees to and does in fact help you support yourself and your children, you will need to pay a lawyer to obtain that support for you. 

In these difficult times, it is easy to take the short view:  Get all the support you can as cheaply as you can and learn to live with less.  Before giving up on a better economic future, you should consider retraining and reeducation. Financial independence is the key to avoiding the poverty that often accompanies divorce.  In its March 23, 2014 Business section The Advocate had excellent advice for women who want better jobs and higher pay:

  • “Dress for the job you want” not for the one you are in. 
  • If you want to move up in your current employment, look and act like management.
  • Volunteer to perform parts of their projects.  That shows initiative and will give you a chance to learn on the job what management does.

If you don’t have a job, look for resources for retraining and reeducation so you can avoid poverty after divorce.  A good place to start is www.louisianaworks.net.  Don’t give up.  Your children are counting on you.