Women make up more than half of the US population, and they’ve been steadily representing more of the job market than ever before. According to the US Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, there was a nine percent growth of women-owned businesses from 2017 to 2022.
As impressive as these accomplishments are, running your own company can pose a unique set of challenges – and pursuing a divorce on top of it can feel downright overwhelming. The matters settled by a divorce can affect your business, so whether you are currently working through your divorce or are considering ending your marriage, here are some points to consider as a woman business owner.
1. Lay out a Plan for the Divorce Process
When you launched your business, you probably created a business plan outlining what you wanted to accomplish. You should consider making a similar plan for your divorce. By creating your own strategy, thinking through your priorities and any issues that may arise, you can feel prepared and stand a better chance at a favorable outcome.
Your divorce plan should consider your business and other related assets that may need to be divided between you and your soon-to-be-ex, in addition to other aspects of a divorce like child custody or support payments.
2. Identify Contributions to the Start of Your Business
A business is a high-value asset, one that you might have started before your marriage or one that may have started after you said, “I do.” Knowing who contributed what to make your business possible is crucial during a divorce.
In Georgia, separate property, the property you owned before your marriage, will likely stay your property after a split. If you created your business after your marriage began, it could be argued it’s “marital” property, which may entitle your spouse to a portion of its value.
3. Appraise your Business’s Value
In Georgia, divorcing couples separate their assets “equitably.” That means property is divided fairly. That doesn’t mean that you’ll have to split your business down the middle. Part of ensuring a fair split entails knowing the true value of all the marital assets so that each party can walk away from the divorce with a fair settlement. As you’re making a list of your collected assets, you may want to consider hiring a third-party forensic accountant or an appraiser to evaluate your business’s true value. Knowing this number can affect other aspects in your divorce settlement and help you protect what’s yours.
4. Know What You Want
Divorces are settlements, agreements between two people who are ending a contract. As a business owner, you likely don’t want to relinquish control, associated assets, or anything else you’ve attached to it.
You’ll need to weigh every asset included in the marital pool that could be divided, then your attorney can help you decide what you’re willing to negotiate to keep it.
5. Review How Distribution Will Work
A judge will examine multiple factors before making a final divorce decree and examine contributions made to the household like income, taking care of children, and length of the marriage. Property division is a “fair” process, but you should work with an attorney to establish these matters, especially if you’re looking to secure your business after the divorce.
6. Company Ownership and Employment
Some married couples work together professionally. If you own your own business and hired your spouse, you may need to examine how they were paid and if they own any part of the company. You’ll have to consider their rate of pay and if they contributed to your business’s growth.
For instance, if you weren’t paying your spouse at a market-equivalent rate, you may need to provide temporary support until they find a new job if they leave your company. They may also argue they’re entitled to more of your business because they weren’t earning as much. These are critical aspects to talk to a high-asset divorce lawyer about.
7. Recognize the Emotions of the Situation
Even in the best of situations, going through a divorce can have emotions running high. These can be intensified when your life’s work is also on the line. Owning a business is an emotional thing; this is something you’ve worked to build, grow, and thrive. The idea that it may change with your divorce can be upsetting and unnerving.
You are entitled to these feelings. It’s your life, after all. The best thing to do is to find an attorney who’s experienced in business valuation and is ready and willing to fight with you, for you. Finding an empathetic and passionate attorney can help you keep your business yours.
Related Facts For Georgia Business Owners to Consider
Divorce is a tricky process. Having the right guide to walk you through your options is critical, especially if there are options that can relieve any major pain points for you.
Exploring an Uncontested Divorce
Although getting a divorce is a process, there is an option that may be less painful to pursue: an uncontested divorce. If you and your soon-to-be ex can agree on the matters of custody, support, and property division, you may be able to get through your divorce with less hassle than a contested divorce.
You will need to negotiate the terms of your divorce settlement, including how to handle your business and related assets, before taking the matter to a judge. Although this can still take time, it often takes considerably less time and money than going through a contested divorce.
Check About Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are tools that may help you retain your assets in the case of a divorce. If you have either, you should review how it may affect your business.
Prenuptial agreements, written and signed before a marriage, protect separate property. A post-nuptial agreement is one signed after you’re married, and it can be used to protect your finances and assets. Having an agreement in place can help ensure your business stays your business.
A High-Value Asset Divorce Attorney Can Help
As a businesswoman, you should consider how to protect your family’s future. An attorney can help you make decisions that secure your life and protect your business, which in all likelihood, is your livelihood.
Divorce attorneys with experience dealing with high-value assets like businesses are critical when you’re ending your marriage. They can help you calculate your assets’ value, review your marital property, and present a case on your behalf to help ensure you keep your business.
Call a Georgia Divorce Lawyer
Divorce can seem overwhelming if you’re also running a business and caring for your family. The high-value asset divorce attorneys with the Gentry Law Firm understand your position and are ready to help you fight for your future. Getting a divorce can be difficult, and we’re ready to help you approach this new chapter of your life.
Helping families has been our focus since we were founded. You can rely on us to provide advice, guidance, and assistance as you pursue a divorce. Call (770) 425-5573 or use our contact form to schedule your free consultation.