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Will your spouse have a claim to part of the business in divorce?

You've invested years of your life and likely many thousands of dollars in the development of your own business. You have likely enjoyed the freedom of being your own boss and also the frustrations of being solely responsible for a new company.

Your hard work has afforded your family a good standard of living, but now you find yourself facing divorce. It is absolutely reasonable to worry about whether you will wind up splitting the business you have spent so long developing with your ex at the end of your marriage. There are a number of factors that will influence whether or not your ex shares in the ownership or assets from your business.

When did you form it and how did you fund it?

One of the most important questions the courts will ask is when you started the business. If you already owned and operated the business by the time that you got married, the company may technically be separate property.

However, given that your spouse's unpaid work at home likely contributed to your ability to work and run the business, the courts could take a different view. If you started the business during your marriage, particularly if you used assets or income earned during your marriage, they will probably consider the business subject to division.

If your spouse worked at the business or contributed substantially to its development or maintenance, that can also have an impact on how the courts view the business.

Do you have a prenuptial agreement?

If you worry that your business may be vulnerable, even if it existed before you married, you may still have adequate protections if you and your spouse executed a prenuptial agreement or even a postnuptial agreement.

These documents can both outline expectations for the marriage and create guidelines for the division of assets and the protection of them in the event of a divorce. If you have a prenuptial agreement and the courts view it as valid, that may protect your business from division.

Can you negotiate something with your spouse?

Georgia courts use an equitable division standard, so if you go to court, the chances are good that your business may wind up subject to division.

However, if you think that your spouse will be reasonable when offered adequate terms that reflect the value of the business, you may be able to make your own arrangements outside of court and file an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce benefits business owners because there is nothing left uncertain.

If you aren't sure about where your business stands or whether it would be separate or marital property, you may want to sit down with a family law attorney sooner rather than later. Protecting your business can help you move on with your life after the divorce.

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Hecht Family Law
12600 Deerfield Pkwy
Suite 125
Alpharetta, GA 30004

Phone: 678-926-9234
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