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Using family law to protect business assets in divorce

In the modern era, many husband/wife teams jointly own and run businesses together. So what happens when that relationship ends in divorce? Thankfully for British Columbia residents, family law offers options for couples who are ending life and business partnerships. 

In the absence of any legal documentation, it is assumed in family proceedings that most assets will be split 50/50. This goes for a jointly owned business as well, if there is not documentation requiring specific division along particular lines. If neither party can agree on a split and both parties hold equal shares in the company (either legally or by default), the result could be the winding up of the company. 

Legal documentation is also important to avoid punitive behaviour on the part of one or both spouses. Couples who own businesses together have considerable leverage over one another, and the issue of hiding assets or otherwise liquidating or giving away company money can become a major problem in the absence of strict guidelines. While not every couple has these guidelines set up, it is possible to establish some during the divorce process to help move the process along. 

Family law is a complicated affair, particularly when the bounds of marriage reach into the professional careers of one or both spouses. British Columbia residents who find themselves in this unique situation may require the support of several professionals, including experienced divorce lawyers who can help navigate the Venn diagram of family law versus business law to ensure both parties are mutually satisfied. In this way, family law support can help preserve both individuals' hard work without tying them to a marriage they would rather see end. 

Source:, "On Divorce Day: is your business protected?", Karen Holden, Jan. 9, 2017

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