Divorces can be messy businesses, but it can also especially messy for your business – if you're not prepared.
Alabama divorce attorneys know that not only is the emotional upheaval likely to affect your job performance – and therefore your business partners and employees – but divorce settlements can also deliver a blow.
That's because when it comes to a division of assets, your business is likely to be calculated and valued. Often, that means scrutiny of records and the books. You'll probably have to produce financial documents pertaining to the business, as well as information regarding practices and expenses. In some cases, it could even mean that confidential information will get out.
In some extreme cases, businesses are even sold in order to pay the non-owner spouse what is considered his or her share of the company.
One Birmingham business owner recently profiled by Reuters on this subject reported that his divorce cost him about a quarter of his business' revenues in new business that was lost and add-on services for other clients. He was often pulled away from the office in order to meet with his attorneys, scour through piles of paperwork and sit through settlement negotiations.
He did eventually settle out-of-court and his business resumed normal operations, but it took time.
What's troubling also is that many small business owners are more prone to divorce right now because of the economy. Struggling to make a business stay afloat – let alone thrive – in a tough market is difficult enough for those directly invested in the company. It's equally hard for families, and marriages suffer.
Often, the stress of these proceedings can be mitigated if you are prepared.
The first and most important step involves hiring an experienced divorce attorney, particularly one who has experience in handling not only the personal aspects of divorce, but the business side as well. Attorney Steven Eversole has a wide background ranging from bankruptcy to criminal law, and can counsel small business owners on how the proceedings are likely to affect the business.
It's almost always advisable to have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, but it's especially crucial for business owners. This will eliminate a lot of the back and forth, because it makes it clear who gets what and is an important tool for protecting the business. However, because the majority of people don't have this type of agreement in place, having a skilled attorney becomes all the more important.
If there is no such agreement, another way to protect the business, particularly if there are multiple partners, is to have a business agreement that addresses the potential valuation or buyout if there is a divorce filed by one of the partners' spouses. It's not 100 percent full-proof in divorce court, but a good argument can be made for why it should be respected.
To save the business from going under, your attorney can also work to establish a payment structure that can be made to your spouse overtime, so that you won't have to dip into your business coffers to cover the settlement.
If you are contemplating a divorce in Birmingham, contact Birmingham Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.