If you are contemplating divorce in Illinois, you may already know that no two decouplings are the same. What you might not realize is that the more business assets you have, the greater the number of unique issues you can expect to arise. Though your initial focus may be to increase the amount of your divorce settlement, it is more beneficial for you to consider the possible challenges you may encounter if there is a business at stake.

Your partner may own a business at the time of separation, but ownership alone does not determine the sharing of all associated assets. The courts use more than the monetary value of an organization to determine what each spouse is to receive in the settlement. Not all divorces that involve business assets result in a distribution of company assets. There are many things that can affect your ability to benefit from your spouse’s company, such as the existence of a valid prenuptial contract. The courts must determine how much of an interest each spouse has in the business before it can distribute/award assets.

According to the American Bar Association, a business that one person starts before the date of marriage is a private asset. There are exclusions to this rule, such as if the nonowner spouse made contributions of time and money to the company during the course of their marriage. It is a marital asset if the owner-spouse acquires or starts it during the marriage. If you made contributions to your partner’s business, the courts will need to determine if those contributions qualify you to receive a portion of assets in the settlement and how much of those interests are rightfully yours. This is general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice.