There are many contentious topics that can come up during divorce proceedings, but some of the most difficult ones have to do with property division. It’s one thing if you have to decide who gets the kitchen table or the family car. It’s a whole other ballgame when you are splitting up the family business.
There are millions of businesses owned by couples across the United States. In fact, a survey done by the Census Bureau shows that there are some 1.4 million businesses that are equally operated by both the husband and wife and jointly owned. Another 0.6 million are jointly owned but operated primarily by the wife, while some 1.7 million businesses are operated mainly by the husband.
Although the best approach to dividing a business would be the “it’s business, not personal” approach, that is not likely the case. Spouses often invest a lot of time and effort into these businesses and will put up a great fight during divorce in order to get at least their fair share.
Throughout the process, it can be helpful if ex-spouses treat each other like strangers. Instead of pulling in hurt feelings and old grudges, treat each other as new business partners. This new perspective on the business could help both individuals sort out issues without getting overly emotional. It can also be helpful to have someone mediate or counsel you through the decision-making process.
Finally, while liquidating the business may be the worst-case scenario, staying business partners may likely be the best-case scenario. It may not seem like a possible solution, but there have been ex-couples who have been able to put their feelings aside in order to continue running a successful business.