How Can I Protect My Business in a North Carolina Divorce?

For business owners going through divorces in Mecklenburg County or other surrounding areas, protecting their businesses is often a top priority. While the ending of a relationship can be a draining and tumultuous experience, losing one’s business could be an even more devasting experience. You may have built your business from the ground up, pouring countless hours into its operation and growth over the years.

The good news is that help is always available. When business owners currently undergoing the divorce process in North Carolina team up with a qualified, experienced divorce attorney, they stand a much better chance of reaching a favorable legal outcome. Depending on your circumstances, these experts can help you keep hold of your business and continue your success without major setbacks. Not only can a skilled divorce attorney explain the various factors at play when protecting businesses during a divorce, but they can also help you take meaningful action and steps towards a favorable resolution.

Did You Start Your Business Before the Marriage?

If you started your business before the date of marriage, your business may not be subject to equitable distribution. Generally speaking, you do not have to divide assets that you already owned prior to the marriage, that have not been comingled or otherwise have a martial component to them. According to North Carolina law, these assets are defined as “separate property,” which means they are usually not subject to equitable distribution. If you owned your business before the marriage, it may likely be a factor in equitable distribution but not an asset being divided.

Understanding Equitable Distribution

If you started your business during your marriage, things become a little more complicated. All of the assets that you have accumulated during your marriage are considered “marital assets,” which means that they are subject to equitable distribution. Equitable distribution is the process of dividing assets and debts between spouses in an equitable manner. It is important to understand the legal definition of the term “equitable” if you want to know how your business will be divided. This is not necessarily a 50/50 split, and many factors may be taken into account when courts determine how businesses should be divided among spouses.

The courts take many different factors into account when determining how businesses should be divided in an equitable manner, and it is your attorney’s job to show them factors that support your case. If you are primarily responsible for the business’ founding, operation, and success, then the courts will likely take these factors into account.

On the other hand, you and your spouse might have worked as a team as you built your business together. Perhaps your spouse was/is an employee at the business. Maybe you and your spouse are business partners. In these scenarios, it is more likely that the courts will divide businesses in a roughly equal manner among spouses or distribute the business in any other equitable manner in line with the distribution of the marital estate.

However, the factors at play can extend much further than your business. Equitable distribution takes all factors into account, including contributions your spouse might have made outside of the business. For example, your spouse might have raised the children while you spent most of your time running the business. Maybe they spent hours cleaning the home, handling bill payments, and buying groceries. The court does take these factors into account, and they are considered meaningful contributions despite not being strictly related to your business.

Try to Come to An Agreement

No matter what kind of marital property is at stake, an agreement with your spouse is almost always the best option. With the help of a qualified divorce attorney, you can negotiate with your spouse out of court and come to an agreement about how distribution of the business and the marital estate should be handled. If keeping complete control of your business is a top priority, then it might make sense to let your spouse keep certain assets in a “swap deal.” For example, you might let your spouse keep the family home in exchange for letting you keep 100% of your business, assuming such a distribution to be equitable.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you are serious about protecting your business in the greater Charlotte area, do not hesitate to enlist the help of an experienced, qualified divorce attorney as soon as possible. Arnold & Smith, PLLC is always available to help. We have considerable experience with high conflict divorces and high net worth divorces. We understand the importance of protecting your business, and we will help you fight to keep hold of your dream. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and we can start developing an action plan together.