One pressing concern for professionals such as lawyers, dentists and doctors who have considerable assets is how to safeguard these assets and their business in a divorce. After all, it can be more than frustrating to think about the possibility of your ex ending up with the business you spent years building and cultivating.
The most important thing is this: Stay calm and avoid making emotional or rash decisions. It can be tempting to rush into something because that feels like you are taking action, not standing passively by. However, panicking can lead you to make costly mistakes. One of the best proactive moves is to contact a lawyer.
Preparation before divorce
If at all possible, you want to start preparations before filing divorce papers. You will have more control over this if you are the one planning to file or if your ex has not filed yet. One thing you can do is to pay yourself a higher salary instead of investing that extra money into the business. Another thing to consider if your soon-to-be ex works for the business is whether he or she would be interested in a buyout. This would reduce the stake in the business and possibly reduce the amount you stand to lose in a divorce settlement.
Identification of priorities
Another approach is to identify your priorities. Obviously, your business and certain high-worth financial assets matter greatly to you. What would you be willing to give up in exchange for them? If there is not much you can give up in return, that can be okay. It is possible that your ex will agree to cash payments over time in exchange for giving up a claim to the business or to certain assets.
Other ways to protect your business include placing it in a trust and using only your own business money for it (no marital money). No matter your specific situation, an experienced attorney can help you identify the best course of action.
Retirement savings and pensions
Savings accounts are often considered marital property and is divisible in a divorce, while many pensions and personal retirement accounts are not. It is crucial to identify your sources of retirement savings and make sure you understand what is at stake. An attorney can help you determine your exposure in a divorce and find ways to protect the future retirement you have been planning for.