This is a two part question and so I'll take it as a two pronged answer. And first I'll look as it pertains to protecting the business financially, this again depends on the facts specific to the case. As you can see, family law is a very fact specific driven type of law. Everything needs to be approached on a case by case basis as you look at the facts.
But in this situation you would have to understand businesses could be protected or could be excluded by entering into pre-marital agreements or post-marital agreements. That's one way to exclude property. There are other ways to set it up depending on if it's a corporation or how that's done. If something like this is not done, then it's possible you may not be able to exclude the value of this business from the marital estate.
Another way to approach this is to have the business valued and then offset the value of that spouse with the other assets to the spouse, who is the non business owner. When it comes to the question of protecting the business or business assets from your other party's lawyer, then the best way to address this is what is called a protective order, which is a court order that is signed by the judge. The protective order sets out the restrictions and limitations in regards to how the confidential business may be collected or who it may be disclosed to.
Sean Sullivan is a family lawyer practicing in the Elmhurst, Illinois area at the law offices of Laura M Urbik Kern, specializing in child custody and dissolution in divorce. Visit his website, www.laurakern.com, and Divorce Magazine profile.
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
Business Valuators / CPAs