How to Protect Your Business in a Florida Divorce
As a business owner, you have worked hard to build your business into what it is today and the thought of losing it during your divorce is deeply concerning. Of course, you likely want to do anything you can to keep the business once the divorce is final, as you are likely proud of it, and it provides an income that will support you in your new life. So, can you protect your business in the event you divorce? There is no single answer to that question. However, there are some guidelines you can follow to determine if you can keep your company.
Equitable Distribution in Florida
Property division during a divorce in Florida are governed by the equitable distribution statute, Florida Statute Section 61.075.. Under this law, marital property in a divorce is distributed fairly, although not necessarily equally. The law applies only to marital property, which includes but is not limited to, any assets or liabilities acquired by the couple during the marriage. Section 61.075 of the Florida Statutes outlines what is marital property versus non-marital property.
Most businesses in divorce are considered marital property if they were started during the term of the marriage. If a business was started prior to the marriage, while it may be classified as a non-marital asset, your spouse under the statute could be entitled to the appreciation of the business during the term of the marriage. Even when the business was started before the marriage, it is incredibly difficult to keep the business’ profits entirely separate from the household. To do this, a business owner must ensure marital funds are not used on the business, and that profits from the business are not used to contribute to the household. As such, most businesses in a Florida divorce are subject to property division.
Options for Keeping Your Business
After determining that a business is considered marital property, a judge will usually divide it in one of three ways. These include:
- Selling the business and dividing the proceeds in a fair manner
- Co-owning and operating the business with your spouse
- Valuing the business and buying your spouse out of their half
Of course, if you want to keep your business, selling it is not an option. In addition, while some spouses can continue to work together amicably after divorce, this is simply not practical for everyone. Therefore, if you want to keep your business after the divorce is final, you will likely have to buy your spouse out after the business has been accurately valued.
If you do not want to buy your spouse out, you may agree to relinquish other types of property in exchange for the business. For example, if your business has a value similar to the value of your marital home, you may agree to let your spouse keep the home if you can keep the business.
Our Florida Family Lawyers can Help You Keep Your Business
Keeping your business is likely of the utmost importance to you when going through a divorce, but that does not mean that you should give up everything else just to keep it. At O’Mara Law Group, our Orlando family lawyers can advise on your case, outline your options, and give you the best chance of keeping your business without giving up your rights. Call us today at (407) 634-6604 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.