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Dealing with business issues in divorce

A Virginia couple may find that financial matters involving a business can be a serious point of dispute during divorce proceedings. However, it is helpful to realize that many of the most heated divorces involving family businesses create an unrealistic public view of what to expect. In most cases, judges are realistic in understanding the importance of a company's ability to continue operating. This means that a judge is not likely to give a contentious spouse a significant share of the other party's business if this would undermine the company as a whole. Continuity for the company would be an important factor for the owner to be able to generate income that would facilitate the alimony payments or other obligations to an ex-spouse.

In preparing for divorce, a business owner might find that it is helpful to streamline financial issues prior to filing. However, it is not wise to create an appearance of restricting the other party's access to credit or funds. Similarly, it is not a good idea to hide assets to avoid their consideration during property division talks. Using one's business to disguise personal assets could lead to greater investigation of business holdings and values.

An ex-spouse might be entitled to collateral in one's company, especially if the business has grown dramatically during the marriage. A prenuptial agreement doesn't necessarily ensure that a business won't be included in a divorce settlement, but it may provide a stronger argument to demonstrate that the company is not a marital asset.

Because the property division stage of a divorce can be difficult, it may be necessary to go before a judge. However, an agreement might be reached outside of the court setting. Even if such an agreement is obtained, it is important to have the matter approved through a court order to ensure that it can be legally enforced. A family law attorney can be of assistance to a divorcing business owner in this regard.

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