Divorce and the Family Business: What happens to the Family Business when you get divorced?

The business you and your spouse co-founded and run together is thriving. Your marriage? That’s another matter. Many people put off filing in situations like this because they fear that it will soon mean the end of the company. It does not have to be that way, especially if your lawyer is sensitive to the fact that the two still need to cooperate and that it will take a quite careful approach in figuring out severing some financial ties, but also having to keep the business alive.

A Census Bureau estimate from 2007 found that nearly 4 million businesses in the U.S. are operated by husband and wife. With a 50% divorce rate, divorce clearly affects a lot of small businesses. Overall, there is no question that it can be a very difficult situation involving two people. Though it may initially seem like a battle, it can work if you work together. Research says that it all depends on the individual couple, but also how the company runs and the skills of your divorce attorneys.

Some things to keep in mind:

Respect each other- this can be hard, especially if the reasons for the split were particularly painful. In some cases, if there isn’t any trust left between the two then there isn’t any respect, and it is probably be best to cut off communication.

Know when to get help- Unlike a lot of separated couples, the ones that operate a business together have to see each other a lot, even after the divorce is finalized.

Create agreement-This is a very important legal step that many couples haven’t though out when they found the business together. The agreement explains what will occur in the event someone wants to sell.

Sit down and discuss the situation with your employees- They will know what is happening, and what you don’t want to happen is for them to choose whose side to be on. Choosing sides can always slow the process down so its always in each party’s best interest to try to get along.