Can Your Business Structure “Divorce Proof” Your Assets In Arizona?
The end of a marriage is a process, and one that requires quite a bit of preparation and study. Dividing assets is a particularly important aspect of divorce, and can be a bone of contention when the proper protective measures aren’t taken. That’s even more true for when a business is involved. However, understanding the procedures isn’t particularly hard, and this article aims to provide more context and information for business owners going through the process.
This plays a role in determining how the assets are divided once the divorce is finalized. But if you own a company, does that automatically mean your spouse gets half of it? That will depend on your business structure. Below is a brief look at the different business models, and what that can mean for the division of assets in a divorce.
Put simply, marital property division laws in Arizona also apply to sole proprietorships. According to AZ Central, the main thing you should be looking at is whether you’ve kept business and personal expenses separate. If you’ve been paying for business expenses out of your personal account, then your marriage supported the business, and your spouse could make a claim for a share of the assets.
If you kept them separate, then the process is much simpler. In a community property state like Arizona, if you established your business before your marriage then it’s your property. However, assets acquired by your business during the course of the marriage are subject to a 50-50 split. Also, if your spouse worked for the business, they’re entitled to some compensation.
Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are particularly notable for their flexibility and asset protection. LLCs in Arizona aren’t required to file Operating Agreements before doing business. However, it’s generally a good idea to file one in order to clarify the terms of ownership and management.
Operating Agreements provide additional protection and options for everyone involved. Failure to file one could leave your business subject to Arizona’s default regulations for LLCs, which could end in you losing more of your company than you have to. Again, if you formed your LLC before getting married, it’s generally easier to claim that as your sole property. If it was formed afterwards, however, or otherwise became commingled or a marital property, splitting the assets may require further discussion and documentation.
Because Arizona is one of nine states with community property laws, if you haven’t done any prior planning then assets could be divided between spouses 50-50. An S Corporation is a pass-through corporation, meaning it isn’t subject to corporate taxes. Instead, owners pay taxes at their personal income tax rates.
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