Protecting business assets during a divorce

divorce attorney Jill DuffyQuestion:

My wife and I are separated but not divorced yet. To earn a living, I am considering starting a business.

Would my wife have a claim to any of the assets from my business if we are technically not divorced yet?

If so, is there any way to protect those assets before we are officially divorced?


In most states, any assets acquired during the marriage are subject to distribution between the parties in the divorce. The term of a marriage is from the date of the actual wedding to the date the final decree of divorce is entered. Assets acquired during the pendency of a separation or divorce proceedings can be considered part of the marital estate and be subject to division by the court.

You should use caution when setting up and funding a new business. If marital funds are used as the foundation of the new venture your spouse could have a claim to the assets that are purchased or a refund of her portion of the funds used.

In order to avoid any claims from your wife that she is entitled to your business assets, it may be wise to form your business after your divorce is finalized. However, you should consult a business attorney who is licensed in your state to discuss your situation.

Your business can be set up as a corporation or limited liability company (LLC). Becoming a corporation or LLC can limit your liability for company losses and shield company assets from your personal creditors (in this case, your spouse).

You should contact an attorney who is licensed in your state to further discuss the specifics of your situation. Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers located nationwide.


Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

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