10 December, 2008
It is absolutely vital that you get the correct advice at the very beginning of the case to ensure whatever settlement you reach with your spouse encompasses all assets, and ensures that you are free in the future to carry on your business without the potential for interference by your ex!
Very often, the spouse is "involved" in the business in some way, either on paper or actually working within the business. In a company for example, the spouse may be a shareholder and/or Director and/or Employee. What are their rights?
Great care must be taken if your spouse is employed in your business in some capacity. Bringing your personal life in to the work place can very often lead to dangerous waters of constructive dismissal.
It is important to follow correct procedures if your spouse is, for example, off work for lengthy periods because of "stress" resulting from the breakdown of the relationship.
The Court does have the power to order transfers of property, including shares from one party to another. In some cases the Court has effectively forced the sale or restructuring of a business in order to fund cash settlements.
If you are a sole trader, what are your spouse's rights? Does it make a difference if you are not married but living with someone?
The length of your marriage and other factors can affect the Court's decision about dividing up all of the family assets, although it should be pointed out that the law relating to Cohabitees (i.e. non-married partners) is different.
Every case is very different, plan ahead and make decisions after receiving advice about the most appropriate and economic way forward.