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All's Fair . . .

. . . in love and business, so you may need a prenup to protect your company's assets.

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This story appears in the September 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Breaking up is hard to do--especially when that breakup can jeopardize business assets. Considering that more than 20 million U.S. adults are divorced, and that 41 states have equitable distribution laws (leaving division of marital assets up to the courts), it's a real possibility. The term "marital assets" no longer just conjures up images of houses, cars and savings accounts. It can include your business, which is why more people are including their businesses in prenuptial agreements.

What can happen if you don't? Sheila Ginsberg Riesel, a matrimonial law expert with Blank Rome LLP in New York City, recalls the case of a man who inherited the family business. Though the business was his separate property before the marriage, the interest the business earned during the marriage was considered a marital asset. Without a prenup, this entrepreneur's ex-wife was entitled to half of what the business was worth at the time of the divorce--which meant he had to buy his ex-wife's interest back from her to keep his business up and running.

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