Many people in Polk County own a part of a small or family business. For some, their stake in a family business or other close business may be the primary source of their wealth and their income.
Additionally, Lakeland residents may have a lot of emotional and other non-economic interest in their family business, especially if the business goes back for a number of generations and the person has spent years building it and growing it.
The interest in a business may be subject to division in divorce
Like other property, a person’s interest in family business may be considered marital property under Florida law and, thus, subject to an equitable division. This means that a person’s spouse may be entitled to his share in the business, even if he was never involved in the work.
There may be some questions about whether a business is marital property in some circumstances. For example, a couple may have signed a pre-nuptial agreement which could address the division of the business.
Also, certain types of intangible property, like the value a person brings to a family business, will not be included as marital property.
Couples will have to address several issues when dividing a business
This does not mean that a person has no legal options for protecting her interest in a family business.
For one, it will be important to get an accurate value on the business. Without an accurate understanding of the business’s value, a person may wind up not receiving his fair share in a divorce settlement.
Even after valuing the business, a business owner will still have the opportunity to negotiate how to pay off her spouse. If both are involved in the business and can get along, then it might make sense to try to continue managing the operation together.
Otherwise, a business owner may have to figure out how best to pay off her former spouse or even just agree to sell the business and divide up the proceeds.