my son started a landscape business about 6 yrs. ago and I bought the the big ticket items -trucks, mowers, trailors. now he may be getting a divorce and we want to know what legal rights his spouse has even though they have never had savings accts together. everything is seperate. do I have any rights to what I invested, even though I am not a partner.
1 Answer from Attorneys
Is the business incorporated? If its an incorporated business or LLC, the soon to be ex-wife would maybe get a piece of what the business is worth but no particular equipment owned by the business, If the business is a sole proprietorship then anything bought is presumptively marital property. However, even if it is, it can be assigned to your son as part of his share of the assets. Keeping things separate does not matter although it makes dividing things up simpler. What the courts look at is when the property was acquired - before marriage, during marriage or after date of separation. Then its valued and only marital property is subject to division by the court. Gifts generally are separate, not marital property. So if you bought equipment and gave it to your son then its his as long as he did not commingle it with the wife. Hard to commingle a lawn mower - but if he used it at the marital residence too, it could be argued that it became marital property. If a mower or trailer or other piece of equipment was only used in the business and did not really benefit the marriage then its not marital.
I don't see that you have any rights. If you gave the property to your son as a gift, then its his property to do what he wants with. If you bought the items and then signed a loan agreement with your son and had a security interest in the items until he paid you back, that is different as you would have an interest in the items.
Your son needs to go and consult a family law attorney now.
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