You and your spouse are high school sweethearts. You fell in love at 16 and didn’t look back. You built a life together for more than 20 years. You even launched a family ranching business together – on your family’s land.
But now, you are facing divorce. You don’t know how that will impact your life and your business. How will you move forward and protect your family business in divorce?
Protecting a business in divorce
Ideally, you and your spouse took the right steps when you established your family ranching business. You created a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that covered how you will split your business’ assets. If you didn’t do that, hopefully, you at least kept good financial records of the assets you each brought into the business.
If you run the ranching business on land your family had owned for generations, you established a value for that land when you began your business. You now will have to have the land and your ranching operations evaluated for their current value.
In West Virginia, marital assets are divided equitably, in a fair manner. So, if you or your spouse only worked part-time in the ranching business, you may receive fewer of its assets. Yet if your spouse didn’t take a fair salary for their work, you may receive more business assets because of that.
Ultimately, either you will have to buy out your spouse’s share in the family business, have a new business partner buy them out, sell your business or agree to continue to run the business together.
Working with an attorney
When you and your spouse have a family business and decide to divorce, you need to consult an experienced divorce attorney. You need to work with an attorney who has handled divorces that included a family business. You want to work with someone who understands how complex it can be to divide family business assets.
Going through a divorce can hurt your family business. You may not have as much time to dedicate to your business operations and lose some of its assets to buy out your spouse. However, if you are proactive, you can work with an attorney to decide what your best path is to protect your business in divorce.