It is hard to avoid debt, especially when owning your own business. Luckily you do your best to be responsible with that debt by paying it back on time and maybe even cutting your own salary to do so. But you may have never thought that acting responsibly with your business debt could put you in a compromising situation during divorce.
Unlike marital debt that is jointly owned in Ohio, it might not be clear if your business debt is also marital or solely your own. This confusion usually happens when you have used business assets — including loans — for personal or marital use. Here are a couple situations you might be dealing with right now.
Business loans and marital expenses
Sometimes marital expenses build up faster than you expect. Maybe your mortgage, car payments or other bills seemed to drift farther and farther out of your reach, so you did what made sense at the time — you borrowed against your business’s real estate. That loan helped you pay off some of those marital expenses and set you back on a better financial path.
Now that you are divorcing, your ex says that loan was purely business and should not be considered marital property. He or she might claim to have never known about the loan or that you only used it for business purposes. Misrepresenting the facts can leave you stuck with repaying the full balance unless you can provide proof of how you used the loan.
Your income matters
You are passionate about your business, but like other business owners you also have a goal — to earn a good income. Reaching that point is a great feeling, and you might have even done well enough that you chose to take only a portion of your business’s income. You were then able to redirect the rest of the income toward your business debts. While this can be a smart business move, it becomes a problem when courts count that redirected income as part of your total income.
For example, your business might bring in $100,000 a year. Rather than take the full amount, you take only 70% and redirect the other $30,000 to paying off debt. When considering spousal or child support payments, the court might consider your total income as the $100,000. This means that your payments would be based on an income that is higher than you actually earn.
Keep things separate
It can be tempting to utilize business assets to pay for marital expenses. In some situations, it might even be one of your only options. However, untangling those business assets from your marital assets is no small feat, making divorce a lot more complicated.
You do not need to compromise your business in order to have a successful divorce. Careful planning and attention to detail can help you feel as prepared as possible to deal with these and other tough issues that might arise. You should be sure to speak with an experienced attorney who can explain all of your options for protecting yourself and your business.