Latest News
Will My Business Be Classified as Marital Property in a Massachusetts Divorce?



Will My Business Be Classified as Marital Property in a Massachusetts Divorce?

16 April 2024
Will My Business Be Classified as Marital Property in a Massachusetts Divorce?

Divorces, those emotional whirlwinds that redefine the contours of our lives, are never black and white. They’re especially convoluted when a small business is at stake, transforming a personal upheaval into a professional one. For Massachusetts business owners, having a firm grasp of what marital property is and isn’t is not just essential but a strategic necessity. Allow us at the Wright Family Law Group to guide you through this intricate topic and leave you well-informed.

Understanding Marital Property in Massachusetts

When it comes to divorce, Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state. This means that under Massachusetts law all assets and liabilities acquired during the marriage must be divided fairly. This includes businesses started or acquired by either spouse during the marriage. However, what may surprise many business owners is that even if one spouse owned the business before getting married, its appreciation in value during the marriage may still be considered marital property. This is where things can get tricky and require the counsel of a knowledgeable attorney.

Exceptions for Small Business Ownership

Are you worried that a business you’ve painstakingly built might slip completely out of your hands? Fear not; there are exceptions. Pre-marital assets—including businesses—can retain their non-marital status with proper documentation. Gifts and inheritances are not usually considered marital assets either, provided they have not been commingled with marital funds.

In the case of inherited or pre-marital businesses, growth during the marriage can be a point of contention. The non-owning spouse might have a claim based on indirect contributions to the business’s success. It is wise to be cognizant of this and have preventative measures in place, such as clearly demarcated business accounts and the business’s value at the marriage’s outset. This may help mitigate the amount of growth subject to division.

Dividing a Small Business in a Divorce

If your business is indeed considered marital property, the division process can be pretty complex, requiring a nuanced approach to ensure fairness and equity for both parties involved. In Massachusetts, rather than a simple 50/50 split, the court looks at various factors to determine the most equitable distribution. These factors can include how long the marriage was, the contributions of each spouse to the business’s success (either directly or indirectly through supporting the family or the business owner), and each spouse’s economic circumstances and future needs. The ultimate goal is to arrive at a division that respects the contributions of both parties while also considering their future well-being. It’s a delicate balance, necessitating the skill of professionals who are well-versed in family law and understand the intricacies of business valuation and division in a divorce context.

Protecting Your Business

A proactive stance is imperative to shield your business from the reverberations of divorce. Often shrouded in misconceptions, prenuptial agreements are a legal fortress for a business’s future. They explicitly outline the business as separate property, alleviating future contention.

Safeguarding your financial records, keeping accurate books, and maintaining the differentiation between marital and business funds are preliminary yet potent defenses. Seeking legal advice early on can provide a roadmap for protection and a strategic approach that aligns with Massachusetts matrimonial guidelines.

The Path Ahead

Divorce can be an uncertain time, particularly for business owners. However, with the right legal team on your side, you can navigate the complexities of marital property in Massachusetts and protect what you have worked so hard to build. At the Wright Family Law Group, we understand the importance of your business and are dedicated to helping our clients find fair and equitable solutions during this challenging time. Contact us today for a consultation, and let us guide you towards a brighter future.

Share Post On:
facebook twitter Linkedin

Schedule Your Expert
Consultation Now