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How Businesses and Real Property Are Divided in a Rhode Island Divorce

When a Rhode Island couple chooses to go through a divorce, one of the largest issues for the court to determine is the division of marital property between the parties. Bank accounts, retirement accounts, and financial instruments can usually be divided relatively easily, as their fair value can be readily determined. Real estate, personal property, and business interests are also generally divided equitably, with accepted values used to offset each party’s share of the estate.

The division of business interests and real estate between parties to a divorce can become more complicated, as the appropriate values can be difficult to reasonably ascertain. Although determining the value of such property can be difficult, the law requires an equitable division of such property. The Rhode Island Supreme Court recently ruled against a former husband who attempted to transfer shared marital real estate to an LLC in his exclusive possession in anticipation of a divorce.

According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the plaintiff in the recently decided case is a woman who has been in the process of divorce from the defendant for several years. During the divorce proceedings, the defendant chose to convey a parcel of real estate that was owned by both parties to an LLC company he created in his name alone. On the plaintiff’s motion, the family court forced the defendant’s company to become a party to the divorce, and also ordered the sale of the property from the couple to the defendant’s LLC to be set aside, so that the value of the property could be equitably divided between the parties.

The defendant appealed this family court ruling to the State Supreme Court, where the lower court’s judgment was affirmed. Importantly, the courts found that the defendant’s attempted sale of the property from the marital estate to his LLC for $1 was not a good-faith purchase, and was instead intended to deny the plaintiff her rightful portion of the property. Because the defendant had no reasonable justification for his behavior, the lower court’s ruling will stand, and the property sale will remain set aside. Although there are effective strategies for keeping certain individual property out of a divorce settlement, the defendant’s strategy was clearly not effective in this case.

Trusted Representation for a High-Asset Divorce

If you are a Rhode Island resident who is anticipating or considering a divorce, the division of your marital estate may become a large area of contention in your case. Although all marital assets are generally to be divided equally in a divorce, the classification and valuation of assets can make a huge difference to the final property settlement. The experienced Rhode Island family law attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo understand the strategies and tricks that work in Rhode Island to protect our clients’ property rights. Discuss your case with one of our dedicated advocates today. At Bilodeau Capalbo, we represent Rhode Island in most family law cases, including high-asset divorces. Contact our offices today and schedule a free consultation by calling 401-300-4055.

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