My wife had an interest in a family limited partnership when we got married. We formed a new partnership with our children as limited partners. I was not put in the new partnership though I have done most of work in the business. Now that we are divorcing she says I did nothing for all those years and that she shouldn’t owe me anything. What do I do? How do I prove I was an integral part of the business?
First and foremost, I would highly recommend retaining an attorney to ensure that your rights are properly addressed in the divorce proceedings. Second, while at a cursory view I can provide some insight, you must understand that what you are dealing with can become very complicated and as such I would again refer you to my first point as the most sound insight I can provide with the limited amount of information you provided.
That aside, what you are dealing with is a claim that portion of the marital estate is separate property instead of community. The significance of such a claim is that the property will not be available to division during divorce if it is characterized as separate property, as opposed to if it is deemed community, you would have an interest in the ownership of the limited partnership.
In Texas, money, and sometimes even personal effort or work, invested in a party’s separate property may be sufficient to hold a claim for reimbursement against the separate property or even a reason for obtaining an disproportionate division of community assets as compensation for value added to a separate property asset. Most of these claims will involve some legal and financial tracing in order to properly establish ownership interests and any such claim for reimbursement.
In the type of partnership or closely held limited partnership of which you describe, assets and accountables would likely require both an attorney and even potentially a tracing expert to establish any legal claim against the existing assets. While your testimony will carry some weight, the lion share of the proof necessary to properly establish your claims would likely be produced via discovery and financial tracing.
For your concerns to be properly addressed in this potentially complex and costly pending litigation, you will need experts on your side to ensure that your claims are properly addressed in court and in any final order of division of assets rendered by the court. You asked what you should do. My answer is retain an new attorney as quickly as possible.
Although I practice law in Texas, I cannot give you legal advice without thoroughly reviewing your case. Do not rely on this information as establishing an attorney-client relationship. Contact an attorney immediately for assistance. Cordell & Cordell, P.C. does represent clients in Texas. Thank you for submitting a question to Cordell & Cordell, P.C.
Samuel M. Sanchez an Associate Attorney in the Fort Worth, Texas, office of Cordell & Cordell where his primary practice is exclusively in the area of domestic relations. Mr. Sanchez is licensed in the state of Texas where he is a certified mediator, interview/interrogation specialist, and is appointed by Gov. Perry to the Board of Regents for Midwestern University. Mr. Sanchez received his Bachelor of Arts from Texas Tech University, and received his Juris Doctor from Wesleyan Law School in Fort Worth, Texas.