What Business Owners Need to Know When Filing for Divorce
Out of everything you own, your business is probably your top priority, and for good reason. It provides your income, gives you a real avenue to achieve your life’s goals, lets you exercise your passion for particular work, and builds your legacy. The last thing you want to hear is that you have to share your business, or that someone is attempting to take it away from you entirely. But if you are going through a divorce as a business owner, your spouse might be a couple court dates away from undoing your hard work.
To protect your business during divorce, remember these five hints:
- Document Everything: The only property that is divided by Florida’s equitable distribution guidelines is property that is marital, or something both spouses accrued or improved during the marriage. If you can show that you owned the business before marriage, or if you ran it alone, it should remain yours. The best evidence of your sole ownership is probably the paperwork you have locked away in your office.
- Every Effort Counts: Equitable distribution means fair property division, not even. If you can show that you put considerably more of your time, money, and energy into your business than your spouse, you may be able to convince the court that the fair decision is to give you complete control of the business.
- Before & After Ideas: Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are a great way to determine who gets what and why in case of divorce. If no one has filed for divorce and it doesn’t seem to be on the horizon, take the initiative now to create a postnuptial agreement. Of course, it may be too late to create a prenuptial at this point.
- Asset Trade: It is highly likely that both you and your ex-spouse have put about-even contributions into your business. To keep total control of it in such a situation, you can consider trading other assets in exchange for ownership. Is there a saving account you can give up? Do you need to keep the marital home? In the long run, nothing has more potential than a business so it is worth a little give-and-take to keep it for yourself.
- Estate Planning Ahead: If you named your spouse as an inheritor of your business when you pass away, be sure to take a look at your wills or trusts to change that after your divorce finalizes. Florida won’t care if you “forgot” to remove them so it is up to you to do that on your own, or with the help of a lawyer.
Do you need help protecting your business from the division of divorce, turn to Tampa Divorce Attorney Catherine Real of Catherine W. Real, P.A. For more than 35 years, she has been the go-to family lawyer for people all throughout Tampa and Florida. Call 813.867.7936 or contact her firm online today.