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Protecting a business from divorce part 1: prenuptial agreements

If you are a business owner, it is not only wise to protect your business from a divorce -- it is an absolute necessity. Depending on where you are in the trajectories of the business and your marriage, you may choose from a number of different methods to protect yourself, your business and even your spouse.

Many family businesses throughout the Carolinas and the rest of the South have fallen apart in the wake of a particularly difficult divorce, and yours should not be one of them!

Broadly speaking, there are two primary kinds of protection for your business when it comes to divorce. You can take preventative measures before divorce is on the table, or, if you did not protect your business until the marriage hit the rocks, you can take steps to minimize the damage to the business and keep it intact.

The best, and most effective option, if you still have it available, is to create a fair, well-crafted prenuptial agreement (or postnuptial agreement) before divorce is even on the horizon. We will address emergency options in another piece, and focus here on the benefits of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.

A prenuptial agreement can protect both parties

The greater your assets, the more that a strong prenuptial agreement can protect both parties. We have spoken previously about how laying out the terms of asset division and liability protection can strengthen a marriage and relieve many tensions before they have the opportunity to become destructive. However, for the business owner, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is an absolute must.

The truth of the matter is that when a person has both a business and a marriage, both sides need protection. When you marry someone, both your assets and your liabilities become marital property subject to equitable division in the eyes of the law.

With a strong, well-built prenuptial agreement, both you and your spouse can rest assured that the business does not have to affect your private life or saddle it with necessary burdens. At the same time, your employees and customers are not at the mercy of your private life. By creating a clear separation, you can protect both sides from the other's worst-case-scenario.

If your fiancé or spouse understands the strength that such an agreement can add to the relationship, then reaching fair terms that meet everyone's needs should be a straightforward process.

Of course, if a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is not crafted very carefully, you may find it is unenforceable in a court. It is always wise to enlist the guidance of an experienced attorney when building such an agreement, and take care to ensure that both you and your spouse have independent legal counsel.

Do not wait to protect your future

If you have not created a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement yet, you should not wait any longer. Finding fair terms for these kinds of contracts is always best when your relationship with your partner is on good footing. This creates ideal terms for all parties and helps smooth things out later on.

With the guidance of an experienced attorney, you can ensure that your rights and the rights of your spouse remain secure, while protecting your business and strengthening your marriage.