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Options for business owners whose divorce affects business assets

In an equitable distribution state like Florida, family law dictates that divorcing spouses must divide their marital assets in a fair and roughly equal manner. If you are a partner in a business, your ownership share of the company could count as a marital asset. In the absence of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that addresses how to treat your business assets, the divorce could disrupt operations. Your ex-spouse may receive stock and become a business partner alongside you. If your spouse was already a partner, then their influence may increase upon receiving an additional ownership stake in the divorce. Because you may consider these outcomes unworkable, you could explore other legal options for settling your divorce.

Sell your stock

Cashing out your share of the business’s value prevents a situation of running the business alongside your ex-spouse. The value received from the sale must then be divided within the divorce settlement.

Trade other assets for the business

To retain control of your company, you could offer your ex-spouse other assets of equivalent value. A family home or vacation home given entirely to the other party could represent a fair exchange for letting you keep all business assets.

Buy out your ex-spouse over time

When no cash or assets are available to trade for the ex-spouse’s claim on business assets, a buyout on a payment plan could resolve the situation. This approach installs a financial agreement in place of immediately handing over a lump sum. You gain time to complete the transfer of value for the divorce while retaining independent control of the business.

Legal considerations

Any of these options require an accurate valuation of business assets. A divorce attorney typically guides a client through this process as they complete the necessary financial disclosures for dissolving the marriage.