Dividing a Family Business: what to know

When a divorce happens, dividing a family business can be complicated.  It’s important to understand who owns what and to learn how to protect your interests.

WOTV 4 Women crew member Gail Saukas of Divorce Attorneys For Women, DAWN, visits the set of eightWest to give helpful advice for women.

Businesses are considered property, including corporations, sole proprietorships and partnerships.  Common family businesses may be a farm, landscape care/snowplow, retail, etc., or a professional practice such as doctor, dentist, or lawyer.


Why is it important to plan ahead if your spouse owns a business?

-Women often do not get their fair share if they haven’t protected their interests ahead of


-Courts often do not want to dissolve a business so spouse can be given a share.

If your spouse says you are a partner, you are not unless you have documents to prove


-Difficult to reconstruct the financial history of a business if you don’t have access to

financial documents.

The best ways to protect interests are:

-Insist that your name is on all ownership documents as a co-owner, partner or


-Insist that your name is on the title to all real estate owned by the business.

-Consider a pre or post-nuptual agreement that lays out how you will divide the assets

of the business, should you divorce.

-If a divorce does occur, have a professional appraisal done of the business to appraise

tangible and intangible assets such as inventory, equipment, accounts receivable,

existing client relationships, goodwill, and patents, and liabilities to come to an accurate






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