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How owning a business could affect your divorce settlement

On Behalf of | Feb 9, 2024 | Divorce |

If you are contemplating or already going through with a divorce, you probably have many questions and concerns regarding the division of marital property. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state where a court will divide all qualifying assets in what it deems as a fair manner. Since fair doesn’t necessarily mean equal, this can create a high level of uncertainty in regard to what portion of the marital property you will ultimately receive.

Things can become even more complex if you are facing the prospect of a high-asset divorce as a business owner. After all the blood, sweat and tears you’ve most likely put in over the years to allow your business to grow and prosper, you may justifiably be worried about how it could be affected by your divorce settlement. Fortunately, there is professional help and support readily available to you that can help protect your future best interests.

Will your business be included in the division of property?

The main factor in whether or not your business will be subject to asset division is if it qualifies as separate or marital property. Separate property includes any assets you or your soon-to-be ex owned before the marriage, while all assets accumulated during your marriage qualify as marital property. Some factors that a court may take into consideration when making this determination include the following:

  • If your business was established before or during your marriage
  • How much your spouse was directly involved with your business
  • If your spouse handled certain family matters that indirectly benefited your ability to run your business

There are particular measures you can use to protect your business from being included with the marital property. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, along with shareholder and buy-sell agreements, all can potentially exclude certain assets from your divorce proceedings.

Determining an accurate valuation of your business is crucial

The estimated value of your business can have a substantial impact on many areas of a high-asset divorce, including the division of property along with the future amount of any alimony or child support payments. Obtaining an accurate valuation can be challenging since it involves a significant amount of detailed information along with different valuation methods from which to choose. Fortunately, an experienced attorney can ensure that a qualified business appraiser is involved in this process while also providing you with guidance throughout all stages of the divorce process.