Divorce is never easy, but here's how to navigate it with your business in mind. Photo via Pexels

We all hoped that, once the pandemic had waned, we would return to a more normal, predictable economy, but it seems that we are confronted now with even more unpredictability in what economists have dubbed the “uncertainty economy.” Very few people are able to choose the best time to divorce on the basis of finances, but the current environment can make evaluating the worth of stock options, a closely held business or even real estate highly challenging.

For one thing, the pandemic itself lingers. Some businesses—bicycle manufacturers and bicycle shops, for instance—experienced boom times during the pandemic. Other businesses—restaurants and businesses at tourist locations, for instance—suffered greatly, limped along, or even closed for good. Now, instead of settling into a steady hum again, our economy is coping with inflation, the rising cost of labor, supply chain tangles, and the ripple effects of the war in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia. The situation is still fluid. What works today may not work well tomorrow. What doesn’t look promising today may be much more successful tomorrow.

In a divorce case in which significant financial assets are involved that are community property, a family lawyer will bring in a trusted professional business or property evaluator—whatever is appropriate for the particular situation. Evaluating a closely held business is often the most difficult issue—more difficult than, say, dividing the value of real estate or stock in a publicly traded company. Three different methods can be applied to a business valuation: the market approach, the income approach, and the asset approach. The business evaluator will judge which to use, singly or in combination.

Much will depend on the ownership agreement as expressed in formation documents, whether the owners be investors, business partners or family members. These documents generally provide in some way for what will occur in the case of a divorce or a death. Generally, co-owners do not want to have to deal with an inexperienced ex-spouse or widow/widower who abruptly becomes part-owner of the business or practice (in the case of a doctor or lawyer in a partnership). The spouse who is in the business also has to consider tax issues and his or her fiduciary duty to other owners. And courts are not allowed to simply give corporate assets or debts to one party or the other in a divorce.

Generally the spouse involved in the closely held business will have three choices available: continue to own the business with the ex-spouse (maybe they already work together and have a decent working relationship), sell the business and divide the profits, or offset the value of the business ownership with other property if other assets are available. In Texas, “personal goodwill” as part of a business is not community property. It attaches to the person who created it. But the business may have “enterprise goodwill”--the value of the business apart from the individual owner--which may be community property.

None of this addresses the issue of the fluidity in the current economy. Divorce agreements can allow for that in the form of contingency agreements. For example, a business owner may be dealing with a specific potential liability. The divorce agreement may provide that, for a given period of time, the business owner is allowed to set aside a certain amount of money to address the liability if it arises. If it does not arise, after a certain period of time, the money will be divided between the two former spouses. Or let’s say a business asset with limited liability or future involvement that is part of community property may be sold in the future. A divorce agreement can provide that, if the asset is sold, the profits will be shared. Clawback provisions can be included, as well, to provide for future adjustments. This will require extraordinary drafting skill.

There is another option as well and that is to wait for more settled times. But the two spouses may have radically opposed views as to the “best” time for the divorce. The spouse who earns less may want to divorce when community property values are at their highest; the other spouse will want to split when community property values are at their lowest. In either case, they would do well to consult experts in family law and business valuation experts before deciding on when to set a divorce in motion.

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Susan Myres is a Houston-based, board-certified family law attorney at Myres & Associates and has over 35 years of experience.

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TMC names inaugural cohort for unique accelerator with UK

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Sixteen digital health and medical device startups founded in the United Kingdom have been selected for a customized accelerator at the Texas Medical Center's Innovation Factory.

In partnership with Innovate UK, TMCi created the Innovate UK Global Incubator Programme, a new accelerator that supports UK businesses as they build their United States go-to-market plan. The program builds the BioBridge relationship between TMC and the UK that was originally established five years ago.

“The TMC UK BioBridge program was launched with the UK Department for Business and Trade in 2018 to serve as a gateway for advancing life sciences and foster innovation and research between our two countries," says Ashley McPhail, chief external affairs and administration officer for TMC, in a news release. "We saw an opportunity to work with Innovate UK to develop a larger program with the UK after the success of the 11 companies that previously participated in our health tech accelerator."

The 16 companies will participate in the program from June to November. The cohort is expected to arrive in Houston on June 5 and have access to TMCi's facilities, network of mentors and potential clients, funding, potential customers, and curated programing — all while being a unique entry point into the US. The new offering joins three other globally recognized curriculums: Biodesign, Accelerator for Cancer Therapeutics, and Health Tech.

“TMCi nurtures long-term growth, development, and competitiveness to increase startups chances of success and global expansion," says Emily Reiser, associate director of TMC Innovation. "By bringing their novel technologies and exposing them to a curated selection of TMC’s expert network, startups receive support and evaluation to build, scale, and expand in the US market."

Two of the cohort's specialties include cardiovascular and oncology — two of TMC's strongest areas of expertise — with solutions ranging from surgical devices to AI-enabled risk stratification and hospital efficiency.

Innovate UK is the country's national innovation agency dedicated to supporting business-led innovation in all sectors.

“The United Kingdom is fully committed to improving global healthcare through scientific collaboration," says His Majesty’s Consul General in Texas Richard Hyde in the release. "Through the expansion of the TMC UK BioBridge and in partnership with Innovate UK, this programme will help to expose the brightest and best British companies to the world’s largest medical city. Our companies will collaborate and grow as they work to develop cutting edge technology. The partnership between the UK Government and TMC demonstrates that international collaboration can drive both economic growth and improvement to quality of life.”

The 16 companies making up the inaugural cohort are as follows, according to TMC.

  • AINOSTICS aims to revolutionize the treatment and prevention of neurological conditions, such as dementia, by developing innovative AI-enabled solutions that draw novel insights from routinely acquired non-invasive medical scans to deliver accurate diagnosis and outcome prediction, and in turn facilitate personalized care and timely access to disease-modifying treatments for patients.
  • Alvie is a blended human plus AI-enabled digital solution providing personalised pre and rehabilitation coaching and supportive care for cancer and surgery. Alvie's technology combines data profiling, risk-stratification and tailored prescriptions of health and well-being with curated educational content, targeted behaviour change coaching and expert support through chat messaging and virtual consultations.
  • C the Signs™ is a validated AI cancer prediction platform, which can identify patients at risk of cancer at the earliest and most curable stage of the disease. Used by healthcare professionals, C the Signs can identify which tumor type a patient is at risk of and recommend the most appropriate next step in less than 30 seconds. The platform has detected over 10,000 patients with cancer, with over 50 different types of cancer diagnosed, and with a sensitivity of >98% for cancer.
  • At PEP Health, We believe all patients deserve the best care possible. Our cutting-edge machine-learning technology enables healthcare organisations, regulators, and insurers the real-time, actionable insights they need to have a direct and dramatic impact on patient experiences.
  • PreciousMD improves the lives of lung-cancer and other lung-related illnesses patients worldwide by enabling imaging-based diagnostics needed for personalized treatment pathways.
  • Ufonia is an autonomous telemedicine company, we use large language models and voice AI to increase the capacity of clinical professionals.
  • My mhealth offers digital therapeutics for a range of long-term conditions- COPD, Asthma, Diabetes and Heart Disease. Our product has been successfully deployed in the UK and India, with >100,000 users registered to date. Our solutions empower patients to self-manage their conditions, resulting in dramatic improvements in outcomes, as evidenced through multiple clinical trials and real-world evaluations.
  • At Surgery Hero, we offer a clinically backed solution that ensures whole-human support before and after surgery. We help health systems, employers and health plans cut costs without sacrificing quality of care.
  • Panakeia's software platform enables extremely rapid multi-omics profiling in minutes directly from routinely used tissue images without needing wet lab assays.
  • QV Bioelectronics are striving to deliver longer, better quality lives for brain tumour patients. Using their first-of-its-kind implantable electric field therapy device, GRACE, QV will provide effective, focal & continuous treatment without impacting patient quality of life.
  • 52 North is a med-tech company focused on improving health outcomes and health equity by reinventing care pathways. The NeutroCheck® solution is a finger-prick blood test and digital platform built to significantly improve safety and quality of life for cancer patients, by helping to identify at-home those patients who are at risk of the most fatal side-effect of chemotherapy: neutropenic sepsis.
  • Somnus is fulfilling an unmet need in global healthcare by developing real-time, point of care blood propofol monitoring. Its products will improve the care of sedated and anaesthetised patients, save money for hospitals, and facilitate a major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • ScubaTx is a breakthrough organ transplant preservation company established to solve the global unmet need for cost-efficient and longer-duration organ preservation technology. ScubaTx has developed a simple, small and affordable device which uses Persufflation to extend the preservation of organs.
  • IBEX is on a mission to help people live active, healthy and productive lives by increasing their access to early diagnosis of osteoporosis. The IBEX BH software as medical device delvers routine, automated assessment of fracture risk from routine radiology for earlier detection and more equitable treatment of osteoporosis.
  • NuVision produces products derived from donated human amniotic membrane that are used in ophthalmology to help patients with chronic, traumatic and post-surgical wounds of the eye to be treated earlier and recover more fully and more quickly. The company’s products are also used in the management of dry eye disease, a debilitating conditions that affects around 17m people in the USA.
  • Calon Cardio-Technology is on a mission to improve quality of life for patients with Left Ventricular Assist devices (LVAD) and reduce the common post operative complications associated with these implantable heart pumps. We plan to do this by introducing a completely wireless heart pump system and augment patient follow-up with built-in remote monitoring capabilities.

UH lab using mixed reality to optimize designs for the Moon and Mars

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University of Houston researchers and students are bringing multiple realities together to help improve the design process for crewed space missions.

Helmed by Vittorio Netti, a researcher for UH and a space architect, the university has launched an XR Lab within the University of Houston architecture building. The lab allows researchers to combine mixed reality (MR), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and extended reality (XR) to "blend the physical and digital worlds" to give designers a better understanding of life in space, according to a release from UH.

In the lab researchers can wear MY space suits and goggles, take a VR space walk, or feel what it's like to float to the International Space Station with the help of XR and a crane.

The area in which the researchers conduct this work is known as the "cage" and was developed during a six-month research and design study of lunar surface architecture sponsored by Boeing, which aimed to learn more about the design of a lunar terrain vehicle and a small lunar habitat.

The work is part of UH's Sasakawa International Center of Space Architecture (SICSA), which is led by Olga Bannova, a research associate professor and director of the space architecture graduate program at UH.

She says work like this will drastically cut down research and development time when designing space structures.

“These technologies should be harnessed to mitigate the dependency on physical prototyping of assets and help optimize the design process, drastically reducing research-and-development time and providing a higher level of immersion,” Bannova said in a statement.

Today the research team is shifting its focus on designing for a Mars landing. In the future, they aim to demonstrate and test the system for habitats designed for both lunar and Martian surfaces. They are also working with Boeing to test designs in microgravity, or zero gravity, which exists inside the International Space Station.

Mixed Reality Raising the Bar for Space Architecture on the Moon and MarsStep into this 'Cage' at the University of Houston where physical and digital worlds are merged, allowing students to see and ...