Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

How can an adverse property decision in divorce be avoided?

When Salt Lake City residents work hard to obtain something, it is natural for them to want to hold onto it and protect it. A person who runs a successful business, for example, may have put years of hard work into building that business. Accordingly, the person may not only want to protect the business from outside threats or dissipation, but also to preserve the business so it can continue to be successfully operated by another family member or individual.

One threat to the continued success of a business, or any other asset, may come from an unexpected source - the person's spouse. When spouses go through a divorce, the couple's assets are divided between the spouses, which can include business assets, property interest or other valuable assets. As a result, an asset that one person has worked hard to achieve or build could be lost in the property division process.

As discussed last week in this blog, one way in which this scenario can be avoided is through the proper use of prenuptial agreements. A prenuptial agreement may allow a person to protect his or her property by identifying what is to happen with the property upon a divorce. Thus, the parties can effectively bypass the court's determination or avoid a lengthy dispute on these matters that might otherwise happen in a divorce.

These agreements can accomplish many other goals, however, beyond simple property division. For example, a prenuptial agreement can be part of carrying out a person's estate plan. This may include keeping certain property, such as a family heirloom or family business, within the family. In other cases, a person may want children from a previous relationship to inherit the property. Of course, other documents might be needed to carry out this intent, including wills or living trusts.

Source: FindLaw, "What can and cannot be included in prenuptial agreements," accessed on Oct. 29, 2016

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