Divorce is always complicated, in some way or another. Maybe you and your spouse can't figure out who should keep the house, or maybe you are struggling to find fair custody agreements. However, for business owners, divorce takes on an entirely new dimension. If you own a business, then you affect many other people's lives, outside of your immediate family.
It is entirely possible that your business counts as marital property, depending on when you established the business, your spouse's role in the business itself, and any protections you established ahead of time to protect the business from divorce.
If you do end up losing the business in the divorce, what about your employees? What about your customers? Can you rebuild from the ground floor after the divorce finalizes, or do you want to fight to keep the business intact through this personal storm?
If you do choose to fight to keep your business, you need to make sure you make it a priority in your divorce. Do not wait to build a strong strategy to achieve the divorce you hope for. An attorney with years of experience navigating divorce cases can help you develop a divorce strategy that fits your needs and protects your interests.
Keep things separated
Your first step is to determine if your business counts as marital property. A legal professional can help you make this determination. If you protected your business with a prenuptial agreement, or if you assumed ownership of the business before you entered the marriage, you may have nothing to worry about. However, in many cases, there is a great deal to worry about.
You essentially have two strategies available, depending on the specifics of your particular divorce. You may either make the claim that your business is not marital property despite your neglect in protecting it, or you may try to compensate your spouse with other assets to keep the business whole.
If you believe you have a good chance at claiming that the business is not marital property, you must keep family and business matters as separate as possible. This is especially important when it comes to keeping family members out of official business and keeping home and business finances separate.
If your spouse is involved in the business in any way, you must put a stop to this immediately. Even if it means firing your spouse, you must remove him or her from any involvement in the business.
You must keep your finances separate, too. Don't spend your income on business stuff, and don't underpay yourself. Also avoid using business funds to buy things for the home. In order to make the case that your spouse is not involved with the business, your family and business life must be as distinct as possible.
Know where you stand
You may not have the luxury of claiming that the business is not marital property. If you must negotiate assets in order to keep your business, be sure to know what it's actually worth. This may entail a professional business valuation.
With professional guidance, you can know exactly how much you must sacrifice to keep the business afloat and rebuild your life on the other side of this difficult chapter.