You own your own business and you’ve worked hard to build it from the bottom up. The last thing you want is for the end of your marriage to damage or destroy the enterprise you’ve created. However, is it even possible to stop that from happening? It is — but only if you plan ahead.
Here’s the reality: It doesn’t matter if your name is the only one on the business. If your business began or grew during your marriage, the end of your marriage could spell serious trouble for the business. You could lose part or all of it in the division of assets with your spouse. If you don’t want to lose all or part of your business to your spouse, you have some choices:
Get a prenuptial agreement
A prenup has to be executed before your marriage. Essentially, it’s an agreement that spells out what property remains separate when two people marry — along with other things, like issues of support. In order to be valid, it naturally has to be fair, legally correct and done voluntarily.
Get a postnup
A postnuptial agreement is very much like a prenup — except it is drafted after you’re married. This is an option if you don’t conceive of your business idea until after you’re already wed. Keep in mind that postnups have to be legally correct and fair — just like prenups. Again, your spouse also has to be willing to sign it, without coercion, or it isn’t valid.
Get a trust
There are certain types of trusts that can hold ownership of a business. It may be possible, with some experienced legal guidance, to put your business in a trust that will protect it from your future spouse’s grasp if the marriage doesn’t last.
What if it’s already too late, and divorce is imminent? In that case, you want to exercise your right to representation and fight for what you’ve created. Consult an attorney about your situation as soon as possible in order to best protect your interests.