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Must I give my ex a share of my business in divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2022 | Family Law

A business takes time and effort to build, which is why no business owner would want to give it up for free. If you are worried about losing a share of your business in divorce, you must know that this doesn’t always happen. Whether the courts will divide your business assets depends on when and how you formed the business.

The law in Maryland

Maryland is not a community property state, so the courts don’t divide marital property equally but fairly. This means that instead of splitting the marital property in half, the courts evaluate each case and give the spouses what they believe is right. Marital property includes all the property acquired during the marriage. Separate property, such as inheritance money, gifts and property acquired before the marriage, is not subject to distribution.

The business belongs to you and your spouse if you created it during your marriage. If you started the business before you got married, the courts would consider your business as separate property. Your business would also be your separate property if you created it during your marriage but using your separate funds only. However, there are some situations where the separate property can become marital property. If you used marital funds in your business, or if your spouse contributed to its gain somehow, the courts will consider it marital property, even if it was your separate property at first.

Your business as marital property

The courts will order the division of your business if they determine it is marital property. They will look at the business value and your specific circumstances to determine how much to give to your ex. As you may not want to run your business with them, you can opt to buy their interest or give them something of equal value in exchange, like the family home or your retirement funds.

Fighting for your business

You must not worry about losing your business in a divorce. It has to be marital property to be split, and even if it is marital property, you can negotiate with your ex to get full ownership of the business. Also, you must keep in mind that you may not have to give up your business if you have a prenuptial or buy-sell agreement in place. Your business is your life’s project, and there are many ways to fight for it in court.