Protecting a business in the event of divorce

Most Missouri couples in the process of ending their marriage must negotiate division of various assets: the marital home, bank accounts, investments, etc. However, if one spouse owns a business independently, he or she will likely want to protect it in the event of divorce. According to an expert, those who are in this position are smart to take steps to shelter their business from a divorce well before the marriage ends.

Many important factors will come into play for a business owner during the divorce process: the business size and location, type of business and reasons for the divorce, to name a few. Therefore, business owners are advised to have a team of professionals — at minimum, a lawyer and a divorce financial advisor — to provide knowledgeable advice. Many couples, business owners or not, prepare a contractual agreement, either prior to or following a marriage (known as pre or postnuptial agreements). Such contracts are designed to define which properties will be considered separate and which marital, while the relationship is in good shape.

As well, a divorcing business owner should be sure to maintain a clear record of all sources of capital for the business and to avoid mixing personal and business banking systems. Business owners who do allow intermingling of systems will likely endure extra scrutiny during the divorce process. In addition, spouses of business owners who have been employed by the business should be paid market rates, as a spouse who has been underpaid for his or her services may argue for a higher percentage of the business’s value, in the event of divorce.

Certainly, most divorcing couples encounter some challenging, often stressful, situations as they work through the divorce process. In many cases, ultimately, one or both spouses must face some losses, but with some planning and respectful negotiation, a business does not have to be one of them. Experienced family law attorneys are available to help Missouri couples who are ready to begin the divorce process with making such important decisions.

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