In Wisconsin, when a couple ends their marriage through a divorce, there is a presumption that their property will be divided equally between the two spouses. You may be aware that this often includes the couple’s home, vehicles, valuable household items, and financial accounts, but it may come as a surprise that in many cases, it also includes a business owned by either spouse. Dividing business assets in a divorce comes with its own set of complications, and it is important to work with an experienced attorney who can help you protect your assets and reach a fair resolution.
When Is a Business Divided in a Divorce?
The division of property in a Wisconsin divorce includes most assets acquired by either party during the marriage, whether or not they are explicitly held in joint tenancy or co-ownership by both spouses. This means that a business that you or your spouse started or acquired while you were married is usually subject to division. However, there are a few exceptions. If the business was acquired through a gift or a situation involving another person’s death, including an inheritance, trust distribution, or acquisition by right of survivorship, then it may remain the property of the spouse who acquired it. The same is true if the business was purchased using funds acquired in one of these ways. Your attorney can help you determine whether your business may qualify as your own personal property, rather than the community property of your marriage.
How to Divide a Business
If your business is subject to division, an important first step to pursue is obtaining a business valuation so that you understand how much it is worth. A qualified professional can assess your business’s value using a market comparison similar to a home appraisal, or using other methods that analyze the business’s income or assets and liabilities.
Once you have a clear figure in mind, you can then determine the best way to address your business assets in the divorce. For example, you may decide that you are willing to part with other high-value assets so that you can retain full possession of your business. Alternatively, you may be able to negotiate an arrangement in which you and your spouse both continue to own a share of the business. If neither of these is possible, it may be necessary to sell the business and divide the profits between the two of you.
Contact a Milwaukee County Divorce Attorney
Dividing business assets can be stressful, especially when you are personally invested in the business’s success or when you rely on the business to support yourself. The attorneys at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP can work in concert with you and your financial professionals to help you protect your business and financial interests during your divorce. Contact a Waukesha County family law attorney today for a free consultation at 414-271-1440.