Working through issues related to the end of a relationship is generally difficult, in particular when property division involves a business. Dealing with the distribution of assets generally and specifically can be complex. The Family Law Act says that British Columbia common-law couples (together for two years or more) have the same rights to property division as do married couples. Dealing with division of assets needs to be considered both in the case of a divorce as well as the end of common-law relationships.
Depending upon the specific situation, what will happen with the business upon separation, will vary. Following a valuation, shares could be given to the non-owning spouse. In other situations, the business could be overseen by a court appointed administrator. If the non-owner of the business assets is to be paid a great sum, the livelihood and future of the business may be threatened.
In some cases these matters could be addressed ahead of time. It is possible that parties to a marriage or common-law relationship could enter into a domestic agreement either before, or in the course of, their relationships. The idea behind these agreements is that a decision regarding how to handle the business, should the relationship come to an end, is agreed upon ahead of time.
A shareholders agreement might also be of use in matters of this nature. This type of agreement could be put in place if both parties to the relationship are a part of the business. Among other things, it would articulate how the exit of either person from the business would be handled, regardless of the reason behind the departure.
Because in situations such as these, each party has a lot to lose, it is advisable to work with a lawyer who has a thorough understanding of the division of assets.
The Peterson Stark Scott family law team lead by senior family lawyer G.C. (Scottie) Scott with the support of the firm's experienced business lawyers led by senior Partner John Peterson can help you and your business plan for future events.