Married couples often own businesses together. In some cases, this means they started out as co-workers and then tied the knot. But they also may have approached the situation as a married couple with a vision of working for themselves, and then they started their company as a way to turn this dream into reality.
What if they decide to get divorced? Things can get very complicated when one of the most valuable assets that a couple owns – with value that needs to be divided during divorce – is a business. Below are three of the different options that they might choose to utilize moving forward.
Selling the business outright
First and foremost, the couple clearly has the option to sell their business. They will need to find an interested third party who will agree to make the purchase. In some cases, couples may consider selling it to an employee or an executive who is already affiliated with the business. Either way, once they get the money from the sale, they can just add it to the overall value of their marital estate, which will need to be divided.
Selling half of the business
Another option, if one person wants to keep the business, is for the other to sell their stake in the company. For example, one spouse can sell their share to the other spouse. This way, the person who wanted to stay gets to maintain their income stream and everything they’ve worked for. The person who wanted to leave either gets the money that they anticipated from the sale or the value of that interest in some other marital asset, so everyone wins.
Maintaining the business
Finally, some couples continue to work together after getting divorced. They don’t sell their business. They simply keep it and transition from being a married couple into being co-workers. This can be a delicate situation, however, and so the potential success of such an arrangement really depends on how amicable the divorce was and if the individuals think they can continue working together.
Exploring all legal options
Every situation is unique, and the solution that works for one couple may not work for another. Those involved will want to seek legal guidance to better determine the type of arrangement that may work best for them.