Till Debt Do Us Part

Working within The Art of Divorce Negotiation, it’s evident that divorce negotiations can often feel like a theatrical performance.  But remember, behind the laughter and absurdity, there’s a serious task at hand – finding resolutions that allow both parties to move forward with their lives.


Divorcing couples often need a forensic examination to assist in sorting out who is to get an asset that both want.  Some of these assets consist of family pets, various collections.  One of the most unusual I have encountered was that I was asked to mediate who was to get a vacuum cleaner.  The woman going through the divorce was an attorney.  I inquired about the assets that they could not agree on.  I found out that there was only asset that the couple could not agree on.  The item that could not be agreed on was a vacuum cleaner.  The couple had agreed that the wife (attorney) would get the new vacuum cleaner and the husband would get the old vacuum cleaner.  The wife subsequently changed her mind and wanted the old vacuum cleaner.  After discussing the case with the wife I informed her I did not want to assist in mediating who was to get the vacuum cleaner.

Now, let’s transition from the comedy of forensic examination to the real-world implications of these negotiations.

Division of Business

One or both of the couples may own and operate a business.  If this is the case a business valuation should be performed to determine the fair market value of the company.  I am seeing more and more calculations of value prepared by CPA’s.  By definition, they are not fair market value and if you need a fair market business valuation, a calculation is not the answer.  It is imperative that the attorney understand the difference and understand how the professional standards differentiae the two.  You do not want to be in court and have your business valuation expert disqualified because I did not follow the professional standards to determine fair market value.


When navigating finances in divorce, consider the topics discussed above.  Lessons learned from these humorous negotiation anecdotes may be helpful.  If you or someone you know is going through a divorce, remember that while it can be challenging, finding common ground and fair resolutions is essential. Seek the guidance of legal professionals and mediators who can help you navigate this complex process with empathy and fairness.

I have earned a Master’s Degree in Business Valuations and apply those skills to my everyday business valuations.

Richard Claywell has been valuing closely held companies since 1985.  He has earned two of the highest designations in the business valuation field, the Certified Business Appraiser (“CBA”) and Accredited Senior Appraiser (“ASA”). Richard is a Certified Public Accountant, has a Master’s in Business Valuation (MBV), and holds ASA, CBA, ABV, ICVS, CVA, MAFF, CFD, ABAR, CVGA, and ICVS-A credentials.

I hold the Master Analyst in Financial Forensics and the Certified in Fraud Deterrence.  I have taught forensic accounting/fraud courses in the United States, China, and Taiwan.

I welcome and encourage comments and feedback. If you benefit from this series, please recommend it to your friends and colleagues and suggest they sign up to receive posts regularly.

© 2024 J. Richard Claywell, CPA, ABV, ASA, CBA, CVA, ICVS,  MAFF, CFD, ABAR, ICVS-A, MBV – all rights reserved


Richard Claywell is the co-author of Capitalization and Discount Rates: The Value of Risk and contributing author of the NACVA Fundamentals Theory & Techniques training materials. Richard is also the Chairman of the International Certified Valuation Specialist Association. Richard has made presentations on business valuation topics in Germany, China, Korea, and Taiwan. Richard is also a contributing editor to Practitioners Publishing Company’s Guide to Practical Estate Planning (2008). Richard is the chief architect for the Business Valuation Manager Pro business valuation software program and the accompanying Professional Report Writer and contributing author of Financial Valuation: Application and Models.

Richard can be reached at 281.488.7531 or richard@biz-valuation.com

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