Burke Levy, P.C.

Protecting your source of financial security during a divorce

Unlike other Massachusetts couples who work for an employer, you and your spouse may run a business together. Over the years, you may have felt that it was the two of you against the world as you got your venture off the ground. You may have achieved a comfortable level of success and felt that you would enjoy a secure financial future.

Then, for whatever reason, your marriage ended. You face divorce and realize that the future of your business hangs in the balance.

What happens to the business?

This question may be at the center of your divorce. After all, it's entirely possible that the majority of the marital estate is tied up in the business. You and your soon-to-be former spouse put all of your efforts, money and assets into making it a success. As business partners, you may have avoided making rash decisions, instead opting to view company issues from every angle before making decisions that affected its future.

Why would you change that strategy now? Even if you and your spouse can't agree on much else at the moment, you may agree not to make an "off the cuff" decision about the fate of the business until every possibility has been discussed and reviewed.

Avoid actions that could damage the business

Regardless of what you ultimately decide to do with the business, your financial security remains a priority. Avoiding the following actions during the divorce could help retain the value of the business:

  • Agree not to disparage each other's reputations
  • Agree to keep your divorce issues out of the office
  • Agree to avoid personal confrontations while at work
  • Don't put employees in the middle
  • Agree to preserve the assets of the business
  • Consider obtaining professional help in working together during the divorce
  • Agree on the appropriate time to tell employees, customers and suppliers
  • Continue to keep good records

You may need to inform some people of the divorce, such as your accountant. Whomever you choose to tell, request that the information remain confidential until you make the decision to announce it. You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have challenging decisions ahead of you without constantly fielding questions regarding the divorce.

More than likely, both of you want to do what you can to ensure a secure financial future as you move forward into separate lives. Once you process the initial shock and other emotions connected to your divorce, you can sit down and discuss the future of the business. The two of you have numerous options, and it may help to thoroughly explore each of them before making a final decision. In the meantime, maintaining the business remains a priority for each of you.

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