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Who keeps the family business after a divorce?

You and your spouse started a family business because you loved the idea of working together. You’d both dreamed of owning your own business for years. This felt like the easiest way to do it.

Now things are anything but easy, however. A decade into running the company, your spouse has filed for divorce. What happens to the business? Who gets to keep it?

Your 3 main options

You certainly have more than three options, and sorting through them all will help you decide what is best in your unique situation. However, most of the specific options you settle on will fall under one of three main categories, which are as follows:

  1. Working together as co-owners even though you are no longer married. You do not have to dissolve the business relationship along with the marriage, if you don’t want to do so, and that means your company can see little to no impact. You can just get divorced and keep working together. Granted, that’s too stressful and difficult for many couples.
  2. Selling the business entirely. If you do this, you avoid difficult conversations about who gets to keep it. This also makes it easier to divide the value of the business. Once you sell and take care of your joint debts and expenses, you can simply divide the money remaining from the sale.
  3. Selling only half of the company. In many cases, one spouse wants out and the other wants to keep running the business. To do this fairly, the person who wants to keep it needs to pay the other for their ownership percentage. This is often 50/50 between spouses who own a business, but not always.

These three options can at least be a point for you to start at as you consider what you’d like to do. Be sure you understand all of your legal options. This type of divorce case is often one of the most complex, and you need to know where you stand and what all of this is going to mean for your future after the divorce.