Divorce concerns for small business owners

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Family Law on Monday, June 3, 2019.

For business owners in Missouri, divorce can come with unique concerns and issues. This is especially true on the financial level, where changes that emerge from divorce can have long-term effects that remain after the emotional and practical issues have been settled. Because business owners often combine their income and their assets and both spouses may be involved in the company, divorce presents a different challenge. However, entrepreneurs can take steps to help protect their companies and emerge successfully from the process.

In many cases, a closely-held business is the largest, most significant marital asset. It may also provide the bulk of a couple’s income. Both of these factors mean that handling the business will be a significant part of the negotiations over property division. As Missouri is an equitable distribution state, there may be different fair agreements between the spouses rather than simply dividing everything in half. The relative involvement of each spouse in the business may, for example, be taken into account. At the same time, some business owners may try to hide marital assets or reduce their income artificially. Prior declarations for taxes and other documents can be used to expose attempts to keep assets out of a divorce.

In some cases, people may reach a settlement in which one spouse is bought out of the business with a lump sum payment or a greater share of other marital assets. If this is not possible due to finances, a structured settlement through spousal support can also be used to achieve the same goal while protecting the business.

There are a number of issues that can arise for business owners who decide to end their marriages, particularly if there was a prenuptial agreement. A family law attorney might work with a divorcing spouse to reach a fair settlement on matters including property division and spousal support.

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