If you wrote a list of the top 10 things you value most at this time in your life, the business you worked so long and hard to build would likely be on it. It's a great feeling to bring a dream to fruition, even with the challenges, sweat and yes, perhaps, tears that came with the process. As you watched your business take hold, you likely breathed a sigh (or two) of relief and began to look forward to a successful, happy future.
Whether your spouse has always been actively involved in your business or not at all, if you're preparing for divorce proceedings, the two of you will probably discuss business interests at some point. As you may already be aware, Ohio is an equitable division state, as are most other states in the nation. This means that even though not all your marital property get split 50/50 in divorce, the judge will determine a fair division.
How can you keep your business from being subject to division?
Share and share alike in marriage is not always the same in divorce. Maybe you always made it clear from the beginning of your relationship with your spouse that you wanted to retain separate ownership of your business. You may have even implemented one of the following ideas to protect your assets, but if not, you may find the information helpful now:
- Prenuptial agreement: While some say this is unromantic and assumes a marriage will not last, many business owners would probably tell you that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, some people believe a solid prenuptial agreement can strengthen a bond between spouses because they know exactly what to expect and have provided for each other's needs and goals.
- Postnuptial agreement: You've heard it said that most important things come better late than never. If you married without a prenup, you can always draft a postnuptial contract later. Either way, it's valid and your business will be secure.
- Trade: If possible, you may suggest a trade with your spouse. Perhaps, you'd let your spouse keep a vehicle, house or other property in exchange for allowing you to keep 100 percent of your business.
No two divorces are exactly the same; so, what works for one person may be entirely off course for you. The good thing is you can negotiate fair and agreeable terms that protect your business interests and pave the way toward continued success. Sometimes, emotions get in the way of amicable discussions. If that's a problem for you and your spouse, you can do what many others in Ohio have done and seek a third party mediator to act on your behalf.
Most problems are resolvable and you needn't lose hope when complications arise. The court would still need to approve any agreement you come to, but your opinion and needs matter. Many attorneys are also skilled negotiators whose main goals are to protect clients' rights and help them maximize their options to achieve positive outcomes.