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Should Inherited Businesses Be Looked At Differently In Divorce?

Property division matters related to complex Ohio divorces can increase interpersonal conflict and leave people worried about their ability to protect their most valuable assets. For example, a business is potentially a major contributing element to someone’s overall personal worth and could also be their primary source of income. Someone who has run a business during a marriage will often have an interest in protecting the organization as separate property, while a spouse who technically does not own the business may want to lay claim to some of its value.

If a spouse who technically owns and runs a company inherited it, what impact will that have on property division matters during their divorce if they file in Ohio?

Inherited businesses may be separate or partially marital property

Many different specific details about the business and the marital circumstances will influence how the courts address an inherited company during an Ohio divorce. The date when someone acquired the business, the amount of effort they put into its development and the use of marital assets for that purpose can all play a role in whether the business will be marital assets or not.

One of the most important considerations will be how much marital income someone invested in the maintenance or improvement of the business. Additionally, whether or not the other spouse made contributions to the business, including both financial contributions and practical contributions, such as unpaid labor, will have a major influence on how much, if any, of the business’s value would be subject to division in the divorce.

Commingling claims could arise during a divorce if the business-owning spouse used marital assets toward business development. Any contributions of the non-owning spouse toward the improvement of the company’s value could also influence what the courts believe would be appropriate. Tracing the investments made in the organization and its value throughout the marriage can help clarify how much of its value may be subject to division.

Business owners tend to weather more divorce challenges

Whether someone runs a small restaurant or a manufacturing facility, the business that they run may be the asset they want to protect the most during the divorce process. Carefully reviewing financial records and seeking to establish as much of the company’s value as separate property as possible will often be valuable steps for those who inherit a company and who wish to preserve its value and their ownership interest during a divorce.


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