Many Washington business owners also happen to be married or are planning to be some day. Successful entrepreneurs understand the need to protect business assets. While most people expect their marriage to last a lifetime, it doesn’t always end up that way.

Some businesses are less at risk in divorce than others. Company owners who sign prenuptial agreements before getting married are thinking ahead. It doesn’t mean that they are being unromantic or, worse, dooming their future marriages to fail; it means they want to maximize business interests and protect what they’ve worked so hard to attain.

Some people have spouses who play active roles in their businesses. Some business owners hesitate to have their spouses on their payrolls or involved in management in any way. In some states, the less active a spouse is in a business, the less claim he or she has toward its assets if the marriage ends in court; however, Washington is a community property state, and all marital property is typically split 50/50 regardless of whether or not a spouse was directly involved in the day-to-day functioning of a business.

Those without prenuptial agreements may want to consider signing a postnuptial contract, instead. Full disclosure of all assets and liabilities is required for property division proceedings in Washington, which is one of nine states that operates under community property laws. Regarding divorce proceedings as they relate to a business, a professional valuation is typically made to determine a company’s actual value. Property division can be complicated and it helps to consult with an experienced family law attorney ahead of time to know what to expect in court and how best to protect business assets.