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Prenuptial Agreements: When Business Owners Marry

prenuptial agreement

A prenuptial agreement is crucial to protect an owner’s business and keep it separate from marital assets in a high net worth divorce. In addition, it also protects the spouse that does not own the business from potential financial liabilities.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

Today, Americans are waiting longer to get married. Unlike previous generations, individuals entering marriage tend to be older and have more assets, including businesses or real estate. A prenuptial agreement is advisable, especially for not only high net worth individuals but small business owners, too. This binding contract can outline how income, property, and assets are handled in the event of a separation, divorce, or death of a spouse. It can be an effective tool to protect one or both spouses who may separately or even jointly own a business. But this contract must be signed by both prospective spouses before they are legally married.

A Prenup is Important for Business Owners

There are multiple reasons why a spouse should protect his or her business with a prenup. After working hard to build a business, a messy divorce could force it to be sold to pay for the settlement if it’s not excluded from marital assets beforehand. This means a loss of income for the business owner. However, the loss of the business may also have a significant impact on others, including:

  • Employees who will lose their jobs when the business is sold
  • Vendors or suppliers that lose revenue with the loss of business
  • Customers who need to find another company to provide the services or products previously obtained from the business

The non-owner spouse who is not excluded from the business could also be liable for any debts or other liabilities incurred by the business. A prenup could protect both spouses in a divorce.

What if a Prenup was Skipped?

If the need for a prenup was overlooked or a couple’s financial situation has become more complicated after signing a prenup, a postnuptial agreement is an option to consider. A postnup is useful when dealing with factors that influence a couple’s financial situation, including business ownership, increased wealth, or individual inheritances. This contract allows couples to determine how businesses, assets, debts, and real estate should be split if a divorce occurs.

Uncontested divorce lawyer Denise Erlich is passionate about helping divorcing couples in the greater Chicagoland area transition to their new life as seamlessly as possible. Ms. Erlich patiently guides her clients through every step of the divorce process and provides clients with candid advice about their case and legal options, so they can make informed decisions about their future.

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