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Navigating a shared business through the straits of divorce

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2014 | Divorce

Safely steering through a divorce can be a significant challenge for the individuals splitting up. If the two of you happen to also run a company together a special dynamic may come into play. This may be particularly true in an entrepreneurial area such as we have in Pleasanton.

There are ways to make it work, as experts in the field well know. Following are some tips that one company founder offers. She brings unique insight to the issue in that she has gone through divorce herself, is the CEO of her firm while her ex-husband is COO, and their business is helping others through divorce.

At the heart of these tips is the apparent appreciation that retaining business value is all important, but that complex asset division can be hard. 

  • Keep business, personal and legal issues separate. Don’t let contents of the different buckets mix. By identifying clear needs and specific desired outcomes for each area it’s possible to develop a strategy for each, and easier to follow plans to achieve them.
  • Don’t assume there’s only one way. There is no one-size-fits-all way to handle asset division.  Get support from professionals across the spectrum of need — accountants, financial planners and, of course, attorneys. Work with these pros to identify the most desirable outcome and decide how best to achieve it.
  • Step away from the pressure cooker. There are a lot of stressors in running and maintaining a business. They are similar to, but different from, the stressors of trying to maintain a marriage relationship. Give yourself the gift of time away from the fray. Decompressing allows for more rational thinking about the issues on all the different fronts.
  • Get clarity around business roles and responsibilities. You might not get along together romantically, but the skills you each bring to the business may be deemed critical to success. Clearly defining who does what can help you decide if you should keep working together. If you do, the definition around roles can help frame how you work to minimize conflict.
  • Have an emergency exit. If you do decide to keep working together, there’s no guarantee the conditions won’t deteriorate at some point. If that happens, you should have a documented, agreed upon plan that allows you both to bow out as gracefully as possible.

Source:, “If You Run a Company Together, What Happens When You Divorce?,” Kate Taylor, Feb. 25, 2014