Arizona divorce law was founded on the principal of “community property.” This means that anything and everything acquired during a marriage, including antiques, paintings and jewelry can be split right down the middle in a divorce. Family businesses, as well as stock options, retirement benefits and real estate, can also be subject to property division. People with significant assets need to make sure that they understand how a divorce might affect their future finances.
When it comes to business owners, Arizona law could care less about who stayed home with the kids and who went into the office every day. Just because one person was primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of a family business, doesn’t mean that the other person isn’t entitled to their fair share of ownership in that business. Courts in Arizona uphold the notion that the management of a family business can be attributed to both spouses. For example, if a spouse stays home to take care of the children, they are providing valuable support to their other half, and thus are entitled to half of the business in the divorce.
The best way to avoid business ownership issues in a divorce is to plan ahead and get a prenuptial agreement. While divorce is generally not the first thing on a person’s mind when they are about to walk down the aisle, it can prevent potential stress and headache in the future. My thought is that it’s always better to be safe than sorry.