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How Business Owners can Simplify a Divorce

Divorces are rarely easy and quick processes, but owning a business can make divorces an even larger headache. However, this doesn't necessarily have to be the case! Rather than spending a lot of time and money trying to figure out how to handle your business, work smarter instead of harder. In other words, make a plan to help you and your spouse make fair and informed decisions about the business. Here are five tips to help you simplify a divorce when a business is involved. 

1. Don't Alter the Facts. The first step of dealing with a divorce as a business owner is to commit to honesty. Don't try to make your business appear less valuable just so your spouse won't get as much. Tampering with the books will only make things more difficult and complicated, and it will contribute to a breakdown of trust during the divorce process. Altering the facts, either on purpose or by mistake, can cause a lot of issues. Get help if you need it, or deal with tangled webs later down the line. 

2. Use a Forensic Accountant. Instead of trying to deal with all the paperwork and number puzzles by yourself, hire someone to take care of your business for you. Many firms have excellent relationships with good forensic accountants, so think about choosing a firm who can help with this detail. The accountant, as well as your lawyer, can help you figure out what you and your spouse are each entitled to when it comes to the business. This can be expensive, but if your spouse in uncooperative or if the business ownership arrangement is complicated, it can be worth it in the long run. 

3. Take Notes on Your Business Predating Your Marriage. If you are the partner who owned or started the business before you were married, do some digging to see how much the business was worth before the marriage, how long it existed before the marriage, and how much it has changed since. This can help you and your lawyer determine how best to divide the property. Don't wait until the last minute to dig up your records. 

4. Consider Not Dividing the Business. In some cases, it is possible for one spouse to keep the entire business. Now, before you start getting either excited or worried, this doesn't mean that one spouse gets more than the other. If both spouses are entitled to part of the business but one spouse keeps all of it, then the other spouse gets a greater share of the communal assets in order to offset their portion of the business. 

5. Use Mediation. One of the key elements of a relatively simple divorce is using mediation. This is especially true when it comes to divorces that involve business ownership. Traditional divorces often include extensive court battles over the various aspects of the divorce, but divorce mediation takes out much of this tension. Mediators can help you and your spouse have civil discussions about the divorce process as well as life after the divorce, and they can help you stay out of court by solving things on your own. When discussing a subject as difficult as a business, a divorce mediator can help you and your spouse get on the same page about the business and make a decision that is best for both of you as well as the business. 

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