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Divorce for business owners

People in New Jersey who are getting a divorce and who own a business will need to make some hard decisions about the future of their company. The options may be for one spouse to buy out the other, for the two to sell the business or for them to keep the business. One spouse might also give the other an asset that is the worth of that spouse's share of the business.

The first step is to have a professional give an accurate valuation of the business. This may include assessing the value of computers and other equipment as well as whether the firm's name and other intangibles have value. Records could be spotty for a family-run business, and it is important to make sure that a spouse is not concealing assets.

How the business is divided as an asset will depend upon a number of factors including who actually owned it, what kind of work each person did with it, and whether one spouse owned it before the marriage. If the business is a partnership with other people, the spouse may have signed a document that specifies what will happen if one of the partners gets divorced.

A couple might want to go through divorce mediation to decide how to handle the business. Even in a high-conflict divorce, mediation may be helpful, and within certain guidelines, it may be possible for a couple to negotiate this and other areas of property division instead of going to court. One advantage is that they remain more in control of the situation. If one spouse signed a prenuptial agreement regarding the business and feels that the legal advice given at the time was poor or incomplete, it might be possible to challenge the prenup. People may also have their attorneys do the negotiations in some cases.

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