Is My Spouse Entitled to Half my Business During a Divorce?

15 October

Is My Spouse Entitled to Half my Business During a Divorce?

If you are searching for a Jefferson County Mo divorce lawyer and are a business owner, chances are you are worried about how your business will be affected by the divorce. In Missouri, marriage is considered what is called an equal partnership. What this means, is that all marital property is in general terms. Everything that can be considered an asset, such as income, whether from a business or salary, investments, and growth in company shares. However, this is only the case if these things were acquired during marriage. In Missouri, the divorce process starts under the assumption that both spouses have an equal share in all marital assets. 

There are two categories of property/assets when referring to divorce in Missouri: Marital and Separate. Assets are considered marital property if they were acquired during the marriage, up until separation is finalized. 

Non-marital/separate assets are assets that were owned by a spouse before the marriage. This would include gifts, inheritance, and items that have been specified in a premarital agreement. Non-marital property will not be involved in the proceedings. 

While a non-marital asset’s increase in value cannot be considered marital in Missouri, the interest or dividends that have been gained as a result of non-marital property will automatically become marital.    

How would a Business be Divided in Missouri Divorce Court? 

The division of business assets in a Missouri divorce can be very complex. There are so many factors that would place various assets into the marital or nonmarital category. The factors that would affect this would be, the date the marriage began, the date when one or both parties invested in the business, the source and amount of business capital, the amount of money invested by each spouse, involvement, time, and actual workload. 

Once it has been determined what aspects of the business are marial, the court will then appraise the business’s value to determine how assets will be split. Valuation can be done by the spouses if the business is under a certain value, or if needed, a professional appraiser can be hired. The judge gets the final decision on how a business is split. 

How to Protect your Business during Divorce 

Of course the easiest way is the uncontested one. Couples can make a business partnership agreement themselves, with advice from an attorney, to come to the fastest and cheapest agreement. These agreements usually dictate ownership, and define how profits are split, and each person’s responsibility to the business. 

There are different options such as employment contracts in which the now employed spouse receives commission and some ownership benefits. However, the best way to go about things is to have a prenuptial agreement already in place that takes care of the business division. This usually allows couples to come to a conclusion without the use of lawyers at all. 

If there is no prenuptial agreement, a spouse could offer other marital assets in exchange for retaining business assets as long as they are of the same value. If a spouse depends on the business for their livelihood, it may make sense to give up something such as a retirement fund to maintain the business. 

Get expert Legal Help from a Jefferson County Mo Divorce Lawyer

Above all, the best option is to seek expert legal help, to ensure you have the support you need to protect the assets most important to you! Contact the Jefferson County Mo divorce lawyer office at Flesner Wentzel today, and let us help you stay protect during these difficult times. 


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