Lawyers Helping Families Sort Out Legal Matters

Splitting business assets in divorce

The whole world is watching how Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos' divorce is playing out. It has all the right elements — alleged adultery, minor children, billion-dollar assets, divided businesses.

Certainly there will be few in that income strata to compare with the divorce and property split of the richest man in the world, but some commonalities remain that bear our attention.

No prenup

Like many young entrepreneurial couples, the Bezos apparently wed without the benefits of having a solid prenuptial agreement in place in the event the marriage failed. One year after tying the knot, Jeff Bezos founded Amazon, the startup company that would grow into a venture that was wildly successful beyond anyone's projections.

That now means that wife Mackenzie stands to walk away from the 25-year marriage with a potential $66 billion settlement.

Keeping it civil

While no other couple will be faced with such vast sums to split, the principle here remains the same. Couples with shared business interests who go through divorce have to focus on saving their brand from becoming sullied by any marital fall-out.

That means, along with protecting their children from any negative publicity as much as they can during the divorce, couples also need to harness their instincts to lash out publicly to harm their other spouse because it can adversely affect their company's brand.

Discretion is important in these matters whether you're at the helm of Amazon or a local family-owned hotel, restaurant or other business.

Accurate valuation of business is vital

Whether you're running a billion-dollar company like Amazon or jointly own a local mom-and-pop store, you can't hash out a fair settlement offer without knowing the exact value of your business.

This can be a complex undertaking, especially if stock options and other less tangible assets are included. If one spouse wants to maintain a majority ownership of the company and buy out their ex, this can involve strategic negotiations involving the counsels of record for both sides.

Fight for the outcome you want

Dual management of a business by divorced spouses is not unheard of, but it is rather unlikely. Chances are good that no matter how civil the divorce may have been, neither party relishes the idea of being locked into managing a business with their ex. Sometimes, control and ownership of the business can be leveraged by trading other lucrative assets like retirement accounts or the family home for the ex's share in the business.

Debts, too, have a role in divorces involving businesses. One spouse might agree to assume the majority of the couple's shared debts in order to maintain full ownership of the business.

There are many paths to successful resolution of a divorce involving a business. Your Frisco family law attorney can describe various options you face and help you choose the right path for your continued success.

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