Protecting your small business during a divorce

You’ve worked hard to build a successful business but are having marital struggles. You don’t want to lose the business you’ve put your tears and sweat into as part of a divorce settlement.

Luckily, North Carolina is like most U.S. states in that it divides marital property in an equitable manner. Unlike states with community property laws that assign half of all assets to each spouse, those with equitable distribution will look at how much each person contributed and split things accordingly.

Steps to protect your business

Even with equitable distribution, there are still things you can do to try to retain as much of your business as possible.

First, you can make sure your spouse is participating as little as possible in the running of your company. If they are a current employee, you may want to lessen their responsibilities and eventually get them out of the business entirely.

Second, you want to make sure that you’re paying yourself fairly. If not, your spouse may argue that by investing the money you could have paid yourself back into the business, you sacrificed some of the family’s earnings. They may use this as evidence that you owe them a share of the business.

Third, get your company appraised by a third party. Your former partner may get their own estimate, but it is better for you to search out a neutral party together. A neutral party won’t be tempted to give a more favorable valuation to either side.

Being solely responsible for protecting your business in a divorce can be daunting. It can be beneficial to seek help from a lawyer experienced in both family law and business law. Knowledge of both areas of the law can be key to getting you a fair divorce settlement—and retaining your business on your terms.

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