Football coach Lou Holtz once said, “You aren’t going to find anybody that’s going to be successful without making a sacrifice and without perseverance.” With steadfast determination that your business was going to succeed, you’ve persevered through the lean and challenging periods. With all your time and energy put into the business you’ve had to make sacrifices—and unfortunately, your marriage was one of those sacrifices.

Much like how the requirement for stricter computer passwords has led to more post-its with written passwords stuck to company monitors, the unintended consequence of all your focus on your start-up was the demise of your marriage. And now your divorce is threatening your business.

Determine your business’ value

Before divorce negotiations begin, you’re going to need an accurate value of your business. If your business is a sole proprietorship, this value will help determine what you may need to pay your spouse as part of the divorce settlement. If you’re partners with your spouse, you both must agree on the value, but also your business’ future. Will you continue as partners or sell the business? Will you sell your share of the company or buy out your spouse?

Division of property

Since Missouri is an equitable distribution state, the court will divide property by what it considers to be fair. A number of factors will be weighed when the court makes their determination. For example, the amount of time and effort you put into running and growing the business is an important consideration. With equitable distribution, the business is considered by the courts to be marital property, similar to your home and other investments.

Important considerations

With the many issue and pitfalls involved in negotiating this division, an experienced business owner divorce attorney can help. Your attorney will want to know:

  • Did you acquire the business while married?
  • How was the business acquired?
  • Is the business owned jointly?
  • Are your business and other marital assets co-mingled?

When you’ve put your heart and soul into your company, you’ll want to take steps to protect it when divorce happens.