The legal process of starting a corporation with your spouse is no different than starting a corporation with any other business partner. You still need to draft the same forms and file with the same agencies. The key difference is that when you are starting the business, you need to address some of the challenges that married business co-founders may face. It’s important to not only consider what would happen in best-case scenarios but to prepare for when things go wrong.
Choose a state in which to incorporate. The most likely choice is the state in which your principal office will be located. Some corporations may decide to incorporate in another state because of preferential business laws in that state.
Draft your articles of incorporation. The articles state the corporation's name, its business purpose, the total amount of outstanding stock and identify the initial board of directors. Check with the Secretary of State in the incorporating state to ensure that your preferred name is not being used by any other corporation in the state.
Prepare the corporation bylaws. The bylaws are the rules by which the business operates. The bylaws also define the roles and responsibilities of each individual member. This is where you should address the specific situations that might arise between you and your spouse. For example, your bylaws should clearly divide the roles and responsibilities for running the business between you and your spouse so you do not step on each other’s toes. The bylaws should also establish a process for resolving business disagreements that might arise between you and your spouse. Finally, the bylaws should provide a means for either spouse to exit the business in the event of an unexpected circumstance, such as divorce.
Register with the Secretary of State. Generally, this requires filing your articles of incorporation and paying a fee. Check the Secretary of State’s website to determine the current filing fee and where to submit your paperwork.
Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service. An EIN is a federal tax identification number for a business. You can apply through the IRS website and an EIN will be assigned to you immediately. You can also obtain an EIN by calling 800-829-4933 or by filing Form SS-4 via mail or fax.