The threat of divorce on a British Columbia family business

When a married couple in British Columbia starts a business, one or both spouses may fear what would happen if they decide to end their marriage. The percentage of marriages in British Columbia that end in divorce justifies such concern, and couples may want to be proactive in protecting such assets. Fortunately, couples can gather experienced professionals to provide advice about these issues.

A team consisting of an experienced divorce lawyer and a skilled financial advisor can provide the necessary guidance through a divorce and any matters relating to property evaluation and asset division. Of course, couples may prevent contention about the business ownership in a divorce by addressing their business assets in a prenuptial agreement. But what if the company was established after the date of marriage? In such cases, spouses can protect their assets by signing postnuptial agreements or establishing trusts to protect their interests.

If the couple took none of those precautions, seasoned legal counsel is imperative. A lawyer will assess the circumstances such as whether it is an established business, a corporation or partnership. Also, a lawyer will determine whether any buy-sell agreement existed to address the event of a partner’s death or a divorce. At the same time, a lawyer and a financial advisor can examine the structure of the business and determine whether there was any built-in protection.

A lawyer will explain any restrictions related to the transfer of shares and requirements for approval by other shareholders before such transfers can take place. Other shareholders may also have the right to purchase the shares of one or both divorcing spouses to allow them to take over control the company during the divorce. Regardless of the circumstances of a divorce, a British Columbia divorce lawyer can provide the necessary input and guidance to achieve the best possible outcome.

Source:, “How to protect your business during a divorce“, Marcellus Davis, Dec. 28, 2016

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