You may be one of many California business owners whose end-of-summer schedule this year includes divorce proceedings. Perhaps you never saw it coming, or maybe you recognized signs that your marriage would end a long time ago. Either way, whether a particular event brought about the end or small things turned into big things over time, if your spouse is a co-owner and partner in your business, you may have a few difficult decisions to make.
When you think ahead to your future, do you still imagine yourself owning the same company you built from the ground up during your marriage? If so, do you also still picture your spouse as your partner? Your business is obviously an asset the court will want to know more about when the property division part of your divorce proceedings gets underway.
Choices to make in divorce regarding business
Deciding what to do with your business in divorce is an intensely personal matter. The following ideas include several options that may be helpful as you discern your own path:
- If you and your former spouse are on fairly friendly terms and are still able to function as professionals together, you may wind up deciding to keep things as they are and continue "business, as usual" even though you're no longer married.
- If being in the same room as your former spouse tends to ignite flames of temper and arguments, the option to stay in business together may not be the most viable in your particular situation.
- After you have an appraiser do a valuation of your business, you may choose to buy out your former spouse's and business partner's shares.
- Some people choose to cover expenses 50/50 for a single business valuation as a means of keeping costs low.
- If you don't want to buy out the other half of your business, you may want to sell your own shares to your former spouse and sever your business ties along with your marital relationship.
- Sometimes, business owners who divorce agree to trade assets; so, perhaps you'd keep your business and the court would award other assets of equal value to your spouse (or the other way around).
There's no need to rush into a final decision if you're unsure what you want to do. You may even wish to talk to other business owners who divorced to get an idea of which options they chose and whether they had any regrets in the long run. In addition, many California residents reach out for support and information regarding how to protect business owners' rights during the divorce process. A family law attorney can prove invaluable in this endeavor.