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How do you handle a business when dividing property in a divorce?

by | Dec 14, 2021 | Divorce

Your biggest assets can lead to major disagreements in a pending divorce. After all, you and your ex need to split those assets. Both of you will want resources for your future, so your most valuable property will potentially lead to disagreements about what is fair.

If you own and run a business, that company will likely play a major role in your upcoming Missouri divorce. Whether you started the company while mowing lawns right out of high school or inherited an established accounting firm from your father, you likely want to protect your business. How might you handle the company during divorce negotiations? 

You could claim it as separate property

If you already owned the business when you married your spouse or if the company was an inheritance left directly to you, it may be your separate property that you do not need to share with your spouse.

However, if your spouse has invested in the company, performed unpaid work at the business or allowed you to invest marital assets in the company, then it may be partially marital property for purposes of asset division. 

You can negotiate to retain sole ownership

You don’t need to go to court to settle your property division issues. You and your ex have the option of reaching your own settlement and filing an uncontested divorce.

If you want to retain sole ownership of the business, you will likely need something valuable to offer your spouse in return for them giving up any rights to the business’s value.

Make sure you have an accurate valuation if you litigate

If the business is at least partially marital property and you will end up in court, then you may need a professional business valuation.

Having an accurate price that reflects not just the company’s assets and revenue but also its liabilities will ensure that a judge is appropriate when dividing your property under the state’s equitable distribution law. They may consider the value of the business when awarding other assets, or they might grant your spouse a partial ownership interest in the company.

Predicting the exact outcome of property division isn’t possible in litigated cases, but good preparation can help you protect your most valuable assets.

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