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How to protect a business from divorce

Virginia business owners might want to take steps to protect their ventures in case of a divorce. Even though the other spouse may have nothing to do with the company, it might be possible for that person to claim half of the business or half of the value that it has gained since the date of the marriage.

There are a few ways this can b avoided. One is with a pre- or pos-tnuptial agreement. It is important that both parties have independent legal counsel. There should be witnesses, and the agreement should be a fair one. However, these agreements are not airtight and can be challenged in court during the divorce, although post-nuptial agreements are scrutinized more closely than prenups.

The ownership of a business can also be placed in a domestic or foreign asset protection trust or another type of trust prior to the marriage. This can be a complex process, and it should be started well before the wedding date.

People may also want to consider what they will do if they own a business with a spouse and get a divorce. This was the case with the founders of CrossFit. Eventually, their settlement agreement was that the husband bought out his wife, but she was unhappy with this outcome.

If a company does have to be divided, this can be a complex process that starts with getting an appraisal of its value and then might involve a situation similar to the CrossFit one in which one person buys out the other. However, figuring out how to divide a company may be only one part of a high net worth divorce. Valuable artwork and other collections would also need to be appraised while other assets, such as annuities or pensions, might have complex rules associated with their division.

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