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Divorce and the family business

| Feb 15, 2017 | high asset divorce |

Michigan couples who own a business together should take steps to safeguard that interest in case they get divorced. For those who are already married, there are still steps they can take to protect one of the biggest assets they may own.

For those who are not, a prenuptial agreement is a useful legal document that can stipulate what will happen to the business if the couple gets a divorce. Care must be taken when they are drafted, however, and they should be signed well in advance of the wedding date in order to preclude a subsequent challenge by one of the parties that he or she was forced to sign it under duress.

Instead of a prenuptial agreement, engaged couples can opt to use a buy-sell agreement. This is a contract between the co-owners of a business, and it specifies what should occur if one of the owners leaves the business for any reason.

A business owned by a couple can also be protected for future generations. A trust can be used as a long-term tool to ensure that the business remains in the family in case the next generation gets a divorce. The trust can be created with the provision that assets related to the business can benefit only the beneficiary, and if the beneficiary gets a divorce, his or her spouse will not have access to the assets long as the assets and any proceeds remain within the trust. Estranged couples can also opt to remain as co-owners. However, this may not be ideal for those whose divorces are particularly acrimonious.

Property division is often one of the most difficult aspects of a high-asset divorce. Couples who own a business may want to have the help of their respective attorneys when attempting to reach an accord on this issue.