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Protect your business interests with a prenuptial agreement

There are some things in life that mark a new era -- the beginning of a new relationship, a new business venture, marriage and even divorce. While these can all be exciting and bring different opportunities to the table, you should be certain to protect yourself when necessary.

Business owners in particular have a lot to lose in a divorce. Although most people in Utah do not start out planning their wedding with a prenuptial, failing to do so could have serious consequences.

First comes the ring, then comes the prenup?

While you should not rush into signing a prenuptial agreement, it is a good idea to begin drafting one soon after your engagement. Prenups can be complicated legal documents and require concise language. Otherwise, it might be difficult to uphold a prenup in the event of a divorce.

Early planning also allows you to get over the jitters of asking for a prenup. Many feel that this document is unromantic or will put a damper on things, but it is essential for protecting your personal and business interests should your marriage not work out.

What should I include in my agreement?

The specifics of a prenuptial depend on each couple. Business owners will likely dedicate a significant portion of their prenups to protecting their business interests. This may include:

  • A waiver for any spousal interests in your business.
  • Limitations on your spouse and his or her ability to take over ownership.
  • A clause that denies your spouse any voting rights in your business.

These may seem small or inconsequential, but you have worked hard for your business and should protect it when possible. Otherwise, if you divorce, your spouse might have a right to a business in which he or she played no part.

We never signed a prenuptial agreement -- am I out of luck?

Already-married business owners can still take proactive steps to protect their interests. A postnuptial agreement can address the same issues that a prenup does. However, it is not enough to simply write down a list of personal interests and then sign at the bottom.

Both pre- and postnuptial agreements must comply with Utah family law standards, and failing to ensure that everything is in order might mean your agreement is invalid. Before you and your soon-to-be spouse sign anything, it is usually best to have an experienced family law counsel review the document closely, making changes as necessary.

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