The business you’ve built, bought or inherited likely plays a big role in your family. It provides income to help support the ones you love and may employ your spouse and even your children. Businesses can be huge assets, worth multiple times the value of your family home or your retirement accounts.
When you find yourself considering divorce as a business owner in Ohio, you will likely start to worry about what will happen to the company that you own. After all, Ohio is an equitable distribution state, which means that the property you’ve acquired during the marriage is potentially at risk.
How can you protect your business from damage caused by divorce?
Find a way to negotiate with your spouse
If you don’t already have a marital agreement in place, now might be the time to create one. A postnuptial agreement could help you address some of your issues and work on your marriage or it could simply make it easier for you to file an uncontested divorce.
You may be able to designate your business as separate property or agree to certain other concessions that your spouse requests in return for your retaining ownership of the business. For example, you might offer a generous severance package for a spouse who works with you or even spousal support while they rebuild their career elsewhere.
You could engage in similar negotiations in mediation or arbitration. If you can’t work out the issue on your own, you can work with your lawyers and a neutral third party to find a fair and reasonable approach to the property division process that won’t damage your business.
Prove that your business is your separate property
The family courts in Ohio can typically only divide your marital assets, not your separate property. If you inherited the business from a family member or owned it before you got married and have carefully avoided commingling, then you may be able to completely exclude the business from the property division process.
Only a careful review of your financial and business records can determine if this is a viable option in your case. Thinking about your biggest assets and your goals for life after divorce can help you prepare for the dissolution of your marriage.