Calculating the value of a business can be one of the most important parts of a divorce because a closely-held business may be one of the most significant assets of the marital estate.  The best approach to such valuation is to hire an independent business appraiser—a CPA with an Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV) credential or a certified professional, like a Certified Business Appraiser (CBA) or someone recognized by the American Society of Appraisers (ASA).  Such expert will begin by obtaining all business books and records, tax returns, and financial statements and reports for at least the last five years.

Using this data, the appraiser will determine the company’s intangible and tangible net assets, an appropriate rate of return for them, and will calculate excess earnings in accordance with various accepted methods.

After finding a proper capitalization rate for the excess earnings (that which remains after taking into account normal costs, return on assets and salaries), the appraiser can place a value on the most contentious aspect of business valuation, the intangible asset known as “goodwill.”

"Commercial goodwill” is the capacity of a business to attract new customers, or keep old ones due to great locations, a reputation for superior service or skill, or anything else that influences a person, supplier or other business to continue a commercial or professional relationship. “Personal goodwill” describes the nontransferable ability of an individual to attract and maintain customers or clients due to his or her skill or reputation for honesty, intelligence, craftsmanship.