• Hi Jaynine, I was wondering if I would be able to get your feedback on something since I know you’re a business owner. My wife started an IT company and is currently in the process of getting certified as a Women-Owned Business. She said that she needs me to sign a “Statement of Non-Participation” in order to get her company approved as a women-owned business. My concern is whether signing such a statement would forfeit any marital rights that I have to the retirement benefits of her business? I will be retiring from the U.S Army in a few years in which 50% of my retirement would belong to her, which is great, but I just don’t want be put into a situation where retirement sharing is legally a one-way streak because I signed away my rights. We have a great marriage, going on 10 years now and she completely understands my concern about this paperwork, so it’s not a matter of whether I think she is trying to get over on me, but rather we just don’t know what it really means for a spouse to sign a statement of non-participation. We’re not familiar with what the spouse is giving-up by agreeing to such terms. If this is a loaded question that you wouldn’t feel comfortable answering without charging a fee, I will totally understand if you refrain from responding.
On Jun 23, Jaynine Ray-Howard, USMC (Ret), PhD (ABD) said the following:
Good morning, Those are great questions and concerns. I am not a lawyer so please do not take what I am saying as legal advice. I do think a lawyer is the best person to get advice as I will explain below in more detail. Woman Owned – business must be 51% owned by a woman (your wife) Veteran Owned – business must be 51% owned by a Veteran (YOU) Disabled Veteran Owned Business – business must be owned 51% by Veteran who is service disabled MinorityOwned Business – depending on your state – just being a woman is considered a minority In North Carolina, I am a Woman Owned, Veteran Owned, Minority Owned, and Service Disabled Small Business – this puts be ahead of others if I want government contracts. Consider which is going to be more advantageous for your family business. It may be more advantageous to have you listed as primary. Many construction companies have the woman as head of the company because it is more advantageous for bidding on contracts. So think long term which is going to be best for the company. Another concern for many business owners is what happens in the case of a divorce. You need to have – in my opinion – a post nup – a legal document that states you get 50% of the business if you get divorced. You also need a legal document that states you get the business if she were to pass and vice versa. Typically when there are two business partners they each have insurance so that they can “buy out” the other half of the business in case of death so the deceased share doesn’t go to the “family”. I recommend keeping very accurate records on how much “family” money or your money from bonuses, inheritance etc. is put into the business. So if something were to happen again you have proof of what you contributed.
These are some links so you can do your own homework. I hope these help.