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Does your prenuptial agreement protect your business?

Many business owners take the important step of protecting their business with a prenuptial agreement, but this does not mean that their business is always safe in the event of divorce. Like all contracts, prenuptial agreements may contain improperly worded language or questionable terms, and these may not hold up to scrutiny if a business owner's spouse chooses to challenge the agreement.

If you took steps to protect your business from potential divorce and now believe that divorce is likely, it is unwise to assume your prenuptial agreement is airtight and that your business is safe. Make sure to review the agreement carefully to understand potential problems and ensure that your business can survive, even if your marriage does not.

Understanding your priorities in divorce

It is rare for any divorce to end with either party getting everything they hope for. To shore up your losses ahead of time, consider what you are willing to lose and what you wish to keep. If your business is not protected from property division, then you must decide if it is a priority to keep the business intact.

If you do believe that your business is an important part of rebuilding your life after divorce, then you need to understand what it is worth and how much of that value your spouse may attempt to take. If the business does not involve your spouse in any way, and if your personal and professional finances remain strictly separated, then you may still have grounds to claim that it is not marital property, even if your prenuptial agreement does not hold up.

Building a strategy to achieve your divorce goals

If your spouse has a valid claim to some part of the business's value, then you must understand exactly what the business is worth. This is not a simple process, because businesses are not simple assets.

You may need to put the business through a professional valuation to get a clear picture of its worth, which helps keep other parties like your spouse from claiming that it is worth much more than it is, or that they deserve a larger portion than is fair.

Once you understand the business's value clearly, you can negotiate with confidence and execute your divorce strategy effectively, keeping your rights as an individual and as a business owner protected.

Each business is different, and divorce can bring out surprising behavior in otherwise reasonable people. You should always use strong legal tools and guidance as you navigate this territory. With a well-built plan, you can move through this difficult season and into the next.

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