One census bureau estimate reports that nearly four million businesses are owned by married couples. Given the high rate of divorce in the United States, it is not uncommon for married business owners to decide to end their marriage. This can raise difficult questions for divorcing couples about the future of their family business and who gets what. The situation can be further complicated if both individuals entered into the business together, but one spouse invested more time at home with the family, while the other focused on the day to day business operation. These days, more and more divorced couples are electing to stay in business together after divorce. This can be a very challenging situation to navigate, but not impossible.
Relationships can become so damaged that it is impossible for spouses to communicate without screaming at each other. In situations wherein one spouse has clearly done something to harm the other, such as cheating, extreme overspending, or engaging in substance abuse, emotions can run high and running a business together may not be possible. If domestic violence was part of the picture, a couple should certainly cease working together.
In some situations, the individuals may still respect one another, but have grown apart in some other way. If a couple is open, predictable, consistent, and compassionate, it may still be possible to work together.
Seeking help from a qualified therapist is always advisable during a divorce. It can be even more important if a couple intends to work together after the split. Seeing one another on a regular basis after signing divorce papers can be traumatic, making it harder to heal and move forward. A therapist can help with that, as well as improve communication skills.
Advice for Staying in Business with Your Ex
Generate a written agreement if you do not have one already. Prior to forming a business, most people sign a shareholders’ agreement that establishes what happens if someone wants to sell their share or otherwise leave the business endeavor. With married couples, entering into this kind of agreement is commonly overlooked; however, it is never too late to draft a written agreement. If you get divorced and decide you still want to work with your ex-spouse, consider asking them to sign an agreement establishing what will happen if the arrangement ceases to work.
Take time to talk to all your employees. When a couple who owns a business divorces, it is common for employees to want to take sides. This has a polarizing effect that can easily spell the downfall of the entire business. Divorcing owners should round up all the employees in a special meeting to explain the situation to them. If they hear rumors, or learn about the divorce from someone else, they are likely to feel betrayed, begin worrying for their jobs, and may even look for employment elsewhere. It can work to destroy the bond of trust between employer and employee. Owners should come up with an agreed upon story about the situation to tell their staff. Reassure employees that issues are being dealt with, and their jobs are not in jeopardy. Do not argue around employees—no matter what.
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Represent Divorcing Couples with Shared Business Interests
If you are facing divorce, the committed Towson divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC will vigorously defend your interests. Call us today 443-589-0150 or contact us online to schedule a consultation at our Hunt Valley or Towson offices, where we represent clients throughout Maryland.