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Continuing a Business Partnership After Divorce

A divorcing couple that owns a family business together has three options — they sell the business and divide the proceeds according to Florida’s equitable distribution of property statute, one spouse buys out the interest of the other, or they stay in business together after the divorce.

Working together after divorce is not for every couple, but if you do want to stay in business after the marriage ends, consider these pointers when transitioning from marriage partners to business partners.

  • Create a working agreement — Many married business partners never create a proper partnership agreement. This becomes problematic when the couple decides to divorce. It is never too late to form an agreement, and you should. Seek the advice of an attorney — or two — or go to mediation. The agreement should include a plan for dividing or selling the business should your post-divorce partnership not be viable.
  • Learn to communicate — As former marriage partners, you may need to learn new tools for communicating around your business without involving personal issues. Interactions at the workplace should never involve yelling, insulting, criticizing or making derogatory remarks either to each other or about each other to employees.
  • Establish a new relationship — A business partnership is similar to marriage in certain ways, and if your marriage didn’t work out, you might have to examine and re-establish your business behavior to make this work. Think of it as a chance to start again, take responsibility and approach the new post-divorce business relationship as a chance to do things differently.
  • Take disputes to mediation — When you are in business together, conflict is inevitable. When you are not able to work through your differences in a civilized way, go to mediation. An experienced mediator can help you establish new methods for problem solving that can benefit you in your business as well as personal lives.
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