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Business advice required

Posted by Scared 
Business advice required
August 20, 2020 01:13PM
Hi, I still haven't reached a financial agreement and my husband is being very defiant. the main issue is that he is a shareholder, employee and director in his business, not the main shareholder now. He set up a buyback scheme 2 years ago for the next 8 years whereby he would sell his shares back to the company with the agreement that he would get 60K each year (providing the company can pay it out). He dropped his hours to 2 days a week and this was set up as an income stream for him. 2 years have passed and ineeded we have received the allotted amount - taxable. I am now wanting 50% of whatever he gets when he gets it after tax. He is saying no, and I can have 50% of the shares, but the shares are worthless unless they sell the company, which they wont. He says I can then sell the shares back to the business, but in his agreement, it states that no-one else can own shares, effectively then I become a shareholder! He is trying to manipulate and avoid paying me at all costs.
I will get half the equity of the house, but he has also announced that he is dropping his hours again so he will work 1 day a week and will earn less than me (27K). It is a clever move. Covid meant he was furloughed, and no director is taking any dividends this year due to this. However, I have seen no document to say that his buyback scheme is cancelled despite him saying so. I believe that is is just rolling over. I know I need to see this documentation.
What I am asking, is that would the court say I have half the shares or would say I can have the income from the buyback deal, by way of maintenance, otherwise I cant support myself or the kids - age 17 and 14.
I have been advised that maybe I seek higher counsel advice, but I don't have the funds for this, would this be a good idea. I have thought of forensic accountants and all sorts, but I just cant afford that.
Please please I hope that you understand, if you I can try to give more information. I really need to know how to handle this.
Re: Business advice required
August 20, 2020 02:25PM
I think it is very unlikely that a court would order that you get in the future half of whatever your husband receives for the next X years. As you have already said, the money is only payable if the company can afford it and Covid has already meant that he was furloughed and that no director is taking any dividends this year. Although a court can order a lump sum payable by instalments the money your (ex) husband may or may not receive in the future looks to be too hedged around with uncertainty for a court to treat it as a certainty.

Having said that, this is simply taking what you say at face value whereas in reality there is no substitute for seeing the documentation which sets these payments up and for some sort of expert valuation evidence on the financial strength or otherwise of the company undertaking the obligation. I don't think you necessarily need the advice of counsel (which will be along the lines of, 'On the one hand, on the other hand .... etc') or that of a forensic accountant but you certainly do need professional advice on the documentation and whether and how much might actually be eventually payable.

That is not to say, incidentally, that all of this will just be ignored because it will need to be factored in to at least some extent. To what extent is something upon which you cannot really guess but do need professional advice because £60K per annum over 8 years is hardly insignificant.
Re: Business advice required
August 21, 2020 09:16AM
Many thanks for responding. A lump sum payable by instalments, if an order is put against it would be fine...but can he wiggle out of this over the years? Also, I believe I have rights to see the company books other than on companies house, if an order is made? I am so worried that he wont pay me anthing. Essentially it is 360K over the next 8 years gross, in total that we are talking about, so I should be entitled to half.
I did wonder whether higher counsel would be £1000 for someone to say maybe you may get this or that!!! Where do I find this professional advice regards the business. It was a solicitor that told me I may need counsel advice!!!! Not too sure that is correct!
Re: Business advice required
August 21, 2020 10:24AM
>>Essentially it is 360K over the next 8 years gross, in total that we are talking about, so I should be entitled to half.

I did not say you were entitled to half and I doubt that you are. In general a former spouse is not entitled to half her ex spouse's income in the future which is what this looks like. That is not to say that it is not relevant and that it should be taken into account which it will be. However, this is clearly not money in the bank and it cannot be treated as such. Whether, if and how much may be payable are all uncertain. Because of this uncertainty I doubt that this would be appropriate for a lump sum payable in instalments. That would to give you a certainty which your ex husband would not have and it is potentially very unfair. He would, for instance, be liable for such lump sum instalments even if the company went into administration. That couldn't be right.

Provided he/she sees all the paperwork and possibly with the assistance of an accountant to assess the financial strength of the company a competent solicitor should be able to tell you to what extent this buy back scheme is likely to be taken into account and in what way. Obviously no-one can predict the decision of a court with exact certainty but a solicitor should be able to give you a reasonable indication of how this is likely to be dealt with.
Re: Business advice required
August 28, 2020 02:38PM
Many thanks. It is a very complicated issue. He owns a certain number of shares, and has said that I can have half of the shares, and therefore 50% of any dividends or payouts as and when they come. I cant help worrying about this, as to be honest he is a bit of a crook and is trying to evade tax. There is also a risk for me, but I understand we both will assume that risk. I worry that he will fiddle the books and say that the company are not able to pay out so I get nothing, but he will get something! He has decided to only work one day a week for the company (very clever because he now earns less than me). He would no way, not want that money over the next 6 years. However I just dont trust him.
He is also saying that he will not share his offshore shares with me as they are valued at 30K nor will he accurize his pension, which is about 40K more than mine. He says we shall have to go to court if I want anymore. He has forced me into a corner, and I now really am not sure what to do.
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