Like many successful New Jersey entrepreneurs, it may have taken you years to bring your business dreams to fruition. Your business is an intensely personal issue. You're passionate about it; after all, you're the one who put in all those long hours and persevered through the ups and downs of the start-up phase until the glorious day arrived when you hung the "open" sign over the threshold.
Whether that sign is figurative because your business functions on the internet or you have a brick and mortar storefront, since the day you launched, you have nurtured your company as a parent nurtures a child. It's understandable that, since your spouse filed for divorce, you want to do whatever you can to protect your business interests.
Factors that affect business-related divorce settlements
No two divorce cases are exactly the same. As a business owner, factors such as whether or not you have a prenuptial agreement and whether or not your spouse is a co-owner or employee of your business may have a significant impact on your settlement. The following list provides practical ideas on how to protect your business interests:
- Paying yourself a market-rate salary can help protect your assets in property division proceedings. If you pour all your profit back into your company, your spouse may try to take advantage of the value appreciation.
- You might be able to trade assets in order to retain full ownership of your business. In other words, you would agree to waive other assets of equal value to your spouse so that you keep 100 percent of the assets related to your business.
- If your spouse holds shares in the company, you and your partners, if you have any, may be able to negotiate a deal to purchase your spouse's shares.
- Documentation of participation in your business can work toward your favor in court. Keep careful records of everything you do for the company, and also try to show your spouse's lack of participation, if possible.
- If you never signed a prenuptial agreement before your wedding day, you may still have the option of executing a post-nuptial contract.
New Jersey is among the majority of states that operate under equitable property division in divorce. This means that the judge overseeing your case may not necessarily divide assets 50/50 between you and your spouse. This is often a good thing because it can leave room for bargain.
If problem issues arise
As a business owner, you are likely no stranger to problem-solving. Divorce isn't easy, and it can be emotionally upsetting; however, if you can approach proceedings as you would a business negotiation meeting, you can work toward a fair and agreeable outcome. That is not always possible, especially if the other party involved is trying to take advantage of the system or otherwise gain the upper hand during property division proceedings. Most business owners rely on experienced litigators to help them protect their interests in divorce.