Dividing Business Assets

A family-owned and -operated business can take a lifetime, and even several generations, to build. And for most family businesses, it does indeed take the entire family to support and run the enterprise successfully. For this reason, dividing up a business in divorce or by a separation agreement can quickly become a contentious issue, especially if one spouse has taken the primary role in running the business.

We at Westside Family Law in Vancouver have decades of experience helping business owners and family enterprises work through the difficulties of divorce and separation. Whether you seek to protect the family wealth or you seek a fair share of it given your support over the years, our lawyers will offer practical guidance in finding an efficient resolution.

Determining Business Assets Vs. Family Assets

British Columbia's Family Law Act offers protection for business assets, considering them excluded property from a marital estate. Furthermore, terms within a premarital agreement may also protect business assets from marital property division.

However, our experience has shown that these laws can be flexed if personal and business assets become intermingled during the marriage. In effect, a non-owning spouse could establish a claim to business assets by demonstrating a direct or indirect contribution to the business. For example, if he or she took care of the children or engaged in homemaking activities so that the business owner could concentrate on running the business, the Court could grant that spouse a share of the business's profitability.

To combat such claims, documentation is critical. We recommend that you:

  • Keep clear records of your personal vs. business account spending and record every expense in a safe place.
  • Stop using business accounts for personal expenses, which probably goes without saying.
  • Take steps to "freeze" easily liquidated assets such as checking or savings accounts.
  • Limit lines of credit or credit cards you own jointly with your spouse, if you can.

As seasoned family lawyers, we have extensive resources for locating and reviewing banking, investment and corporate information. This includes working with business valuation experts, corporate accountants and even forensic specialists to help us properly account for all assets that the Court may consider to be family property. This means we can trace and find assets that may be hidden.

Laying Good Foundations To Protect You Now And In The Future

Dividing up business assets has the potential to harm not only you, but your business as a whole, which could suffer significant setbacks if the separation is handled poorly. Therefore, you want a firm that has handled such delicate situations before, which Westside Family Law has. We will safeguard all of your interests and aim for solutions that pave the way for future prosperity. To learn more, schedule a free consultation by calling 604-800-8853.