Getting divorced as a business owner is stressful. You’re worried that you’re going to lose the company or the assets you own. You may not even lament the loss of the romantic relationship very much, but you don’t want it to impact your company for years to come. Does your spouse have a right to those assets?

They may. Even if your spouse is not a co-owner, there are a few arguments that they can make to say that at least a portion of those assets should go to them. The first is that they helped you grow the business by taking care of other things in the relationship. For instance, maybe your spouse quite their job and stayed home to raise the children so that you could spend 60 hours a week getting the company off of the ground. They may argue that you never could have seen the same level of success without them. 

Another claim they may make is that the value of the business increased and you spent family money to make it happen. You used your income (and possibly theirs, if they also worked) to expand the company. It went from a valuation of $500,000 to $1 million during your marriage. They will say that increase is marital property and that you couldn’t have done it without assets that they owned along with you. 

As a business owner, one of the most important things that you can consider during the divorce is how you are going to protect the company and your future.