What Happens to Our Business After a Divorce?

For married couples who own businesses together, the prospect of divorce raises complicated legal and economic issues related to those businesses. However, while divorce may dissolve a marriage, it does not necessarily need to spell the end of a married couple's business venture. According to a 2007 Census Bureau estimate, cited in a recent New York Times article, about 3.7 million businesses were owned by married persons in the United States. This article goes on to highlight a number of separated or divorced couples, including two attorneys, who decided to continue working together and operate their businesses, despite their marital difficulties. The couples acknowledged that their decisions were not without problems, but through counseling and the development of mutual respect they were able to overcome communication problems that had otherwise ended their marriages. Notably, the couples also stated that their mutual desire to continue receving the economic benefits of their businesses and to avoid laying-off employees was a key factor in solidifying their decisions to maintain their businesses. While many people often think of divorce as signaling the end of a marriage and the division of marital property, including businesses owned by married persons, it appears that at least some, more entrepreneurial-minded individuals have found a constructive way to continue their business relationships, even after their marital relationsips have ended.

Hayden O. Lee, Esquire

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