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What to do About Your Shared Company When You Divorce

Published October 7, 2020
The divorce process is complicated, especially if you and your spouse own and run a business together. It’s important to seek professional guidance so you can fully explore your options, allowing you to make a decision with confidence. 

For divorcing couples, there are so many decisions to make and negotiations to wade through before the process concludes. Determining who stays in the house, who will make alimony payments to the other spouse, or how marital assets will be divided are all important topics to address throughout the divorce process. If you have children, you’ll also need to discuss child custody arrangements and child support payments—topics that, due to the strong emotions involved, can be some of the most difficult ones to tackle before the divorce is finalized. However, some couples face an additional hurdle: What becomes of the business you started and ran together during your marriage? It’s worth exploring your options for how to address your shared business during your divorce so that you can feel confident about your decision as you begin the next chapter of your life.

Seek Professional Help

Walking away from your marriage when there is a business involved can be tricky, as you face additional questions and decisions that have the potential to significantly affect the new future you are starting to create for yourself. Your first step should be to work with a mediator or attorney who has a thorough understanding of business and financial matters, especially as they pertain to divorce. This helpful individual can help you explore all of your options for dividing, keeping, or selling your business while making sure you understand the potential ramifications of each choice. Additionally, you may wish to meet with a professional counselor as well, especially as you navigate complex personal, professional, and financial issues throughout the divorce process. The more you feel supported, the more empowered you may feel to make these important decisions with confidence.

Create Clear Definitions and Guidelines

If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are on the fence about whether to continue to run your business together or whether to sell it, it can be helpful to take some time to clearly define your professional roles within your company. As much as possible, keep emotions out of it—focus instead on which person is in charge of which aspects of running the business. Then, you can both examine these roles from a (mostly) professional standpoint, and you can evaluate whether it’s best for the business—and yourselves—to continue to work together. Remember, you may not have to agree with each other on every business decision, but you will be interacting with each other fairly often. If you and your spouse are simply too bitter or distant to communicate effectively, then it may be time to explore the option of having one person take over the responsibilities of running the business or of selling it off altogether.

Make Sure You Have a Backup Plan

Even if it may seem like you can successfully collaborate with your spouse even after the divorce is finalized, you may come to realize that this is not a healthy or sustainable dynamic for you. Sometimes, we are overly optimistic about what we can handle emotionally and mentally, and we may end up feeling trapped with the consequences of our decision. It’s always a smart idea to think through alternatives, should your original plan end up leaving you depleted or unfulfilled. Think of other career or employment opportunities you could pursue if you decide to walk away from your business. Enroll in a night class for graphic design, or find a network of professionals who can help you find employment opportunities, should you come to need them. The more you can plan for various outcomes, the more prepared you will be if things do not work out the way you initially anticipated.


To learn more about how divorce will impact the business you and your spouse currently own, reach out to the knowledgeable and friendly divorce and family law attorneys at Lee Tyler Family Law, P.C. at (503) 233-8868. We proudly serve clients throughout the Portland area, striving to help them create brighter futures. Get in touch today.

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