15850 W. Bluemound Rd. Suite 304 • Brookfield, WI 53005

15850 W. Bluemound Rd. Suite 304 • Brookfield, WI 53005 • 262-788-5335

Divorce When You Own a Family Business

For some, owning a family business can be a dream come true that leads to generations of stability and a lasting legacy. For others, it can be a source of financial and marital stress. Regardless of the situation, when you own a family business, divorce can be extremely complicated.

divorce when you own a family business: a couple is surprised

Deciding on the Future

Depending on the type of business you own, you and your spouse may be on the same page about the future. For example, if the two of you were the sole proprietors of a gift shop that was barely making a profit and had no other workers, you may both want to sell your inventory and shut down.

However, if the business is thriving and involves several employees, it may not be in anyone’s best interest to go out of business. You and your ex may want to sell the operation and divide the proceeds, or come up with another arrangement.

If you are uncertain or one of you wants to keep the business, it may be best to have its value professionally evaluated and to consider using an independent accountant to review its financial health. Having this information can help you and your ex make informed decisions going forward.

Other Interested Parties

If you and your ex own the business with other family members or other investors, these individuals and their interests can also be impacted by the decisions in your case. It may not be feasible for all of you to continue working together and co-owning your business if there are strong feelings about the end of the marriage.

However, a Wisconsin court must divide all community assets and debts in a fair and equitable manner. In this instance, the court may have to order that one party pay the other for his or her interest, or that both sell their stakes and divide the proceeds.

Consider Using Neutral Professionals

With a family business, there are not only broad business and financial implications, but there may also be emotional issues at stake for the parties and their loved ones. If you and your ex are at an impasse, working with neutral professionals through a Collaborative Divorce may help both sides find a solution.

This process allows the parties to work with trained attorneys and financial specialists who understand the unique conditions involved in owning a family business. By being cooperative, each side can work together on their issues in a manner that engenders a peaceful resolution for everyone involved.