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Protect your business from a divorce in New York City

If you own a business, then your divorce is not only about yourself or your family. Your entire business may be at stake in the property division process of divorce, and if things go poorly, you may have to fold the business.

Unless you take specific steps to avoid this possibility before entering marriage or before your divorce becomes likely, your business may count as marital property. This means that your spouse may legally claim that he or she deserves a portion of the business's value during your divorce, just as he or she may claim ownership of a portion of your shared savings account.

If you are looking for levers to pull to avert an emergency, you should consult with an experienced divorce attorney who understands how the process normal plays out in New York City. You may have several options available to protect your business from your divorce, and the sooner you take action, the sooner you can identify the strongest strategies that work in your circumstances.

Should you save the business?

Before you choose to prioritize saving your business in your divorce, be sure to understand its true value and your spouse's claim to its value. In some cases, the business is emotionally valuable, but does not make sense as a divorce priority.

An experienced divorce attorney can help you assess the stakes of keeping the business in your divorce. You may even choose to have the business professionally valued. Using a professional business valuation, you can gain in-depth insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the business, including its overall value and liability.

If you do not choose to save the business, it may prove a useful negotiation chip in other aspects of the process. If you do choose to fight for the business, understand that this must likely be your first priority in the entire divorce process.

May you claim the business as separate property?

The simplest way to keep the business off the negotiation table is by classifying it as separate property. If you protected the business with a prenuptial agreement, most of the work is done for you. However, without this protection, you may have to go to great lengths to argue that your spouse does not have a claim to the business.

This means proving that your business finances are separate from your personal finances, and that your spouse does not contribute meaningfully to the business. Your spouse absolutely should not work for the business in any way. If they do, remove them immediately.

Other options in negotiation

If you cannot reasonably claim that the business is separate property, you may need to offer your spouse other property to buy out his or her share of the business's value. If you cannot access sufficient funds to do this at the time of the property division negotiations, you may consider some sort of structured payment plan.

However you choose to proceed, do not forego proper legal counsel. With experienced legal guidance, you can protect yourself and your priorities as you work toward a fair divorce settlement with your spouse.

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