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Getting divorced from your spouse — and your business partner

A traditional divorce is complicated enough, but what about when that spouse is also your business partner?

After all, many businesses in the United States are family-owned and operated. Maybe you and your spouse launched your company a decade ago, after just a year of marriage. You felt happy and secure in the relationship back then, so you didn’t even think about what you would do if you got divorced.

A lot can change in 10 years. While they’ve been good to your business, which has only grown, they have not been as good to your marriage. You’re going to get divorced, and you don’t know what to do with the company. Here are a few options:

  • Sell it. Your company is worth more now than when you founded it, after all. Sell the company, split the earnings, and go your separate ways. If you want to use the money to start a new business, you can.
  • Buy the other half. Keep your own half, buy out your spouse, and keep running the company yourself. It’s a smooth transition and your life doesn’t change much.
  • Keep working together. Don’t let the divorce get in the way of your professional relationship. Even as your personal life changes, just keep running the business exactly as the two of you have done for the past decade.

Every relationship is unique. For some couples, remaining business partners seems impossible and even absurd. For others, the company comes first and it’s exactly what they want. The key is to decide what you want and what legal steps to take to make it happen.