For family business owners, the backbone of America, one question that sometimes arises when a marriage ends is what should be done with that family business. The couple was married when they started the company. The marriage is now ending, but what does that mean for their company?
Two of the most common tactics are to sell the business to a third party or to sell half of the business to your ex – or to buy half of the business from your ex. Either way, at least one of you will be moving on from the company, and perhaps both. This makes property division simple because you can split up your earnings and any assets the business still controls.
But what if you just can’t stomach the thought of giving up on this business that you’ve worked so hard for? Can you and your ex run it together?
Can you separate the two relationships?
You certainly can do this, legally speaking. Your business does not have to end. It doesn’t matter if you’re married or not. The business can keep functioning with you as co-owners, regardless of your marital status.
The big question, then, is if you can separate your business relationship from your personal relationship. Remember, the company started when you had both. You were a married couple and you were co-owners. You were probably very excited to go into business together.
That is changing now, and you may need to take some active steps to make this work. For instance, you may need to have a very clear division of responsibilities and duties so that you don’t constantly run into disagreements over who gets to do what jobs or make which decisions. You also need to make sure that you can keep any emotions from the divorce from impacting the company. For instance, if you’re frustrated with your ex, you don’t want to do something that negatively impacts the business just because you know they’ll be displeased.
If you are on the same page in this regard, and you’re on relatively good terms even after the divorce, there’s no reason why you can’t keep your family business going strong.
Taking the right legal steps
That said, your divorce is going to be more complicated than someone who doesn’t own a business with their ex. Make sure you know exactly what steps you need to take.