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How to handle matters involving business and divorce

There is a saying that one should never work with children or animals. For some New Jersey residents, this may also come to be true of former or soon-to-be ex-spouses. Business relationships may flourish while a marriage does; however, this rarely - if ever - continues to be the case when divorce happens.

The most recent figures relating to the number of businesses owned by married couples in this country are almost two decades out of date. At that time, the number of small businesses that fell into this category was reported as around three million, out of an approximate total of 22 million, just shy of 14 percent. Even if the number of such businesses hasn't grown since these figures were produced (which is unlikely), with divorce rates reported between 40 and 50 percent, it seems as though the problem of how to handle a family business in divorce could be more common than one might imagine.

The first option to consider is for one spouse to buy out the other. This could be achieved in a number of ways, depending on the value of the business and personal assets. The second option is for the couple to continue running the business together, which may be possible if the divorce is amicable and there is no acrimony on the part of either spouse. Unfortunately, many couples find that this is not a workable solution. The third option is for both parties to end their association with the business, either by selling it to a third party or by winding it up completely.

Whichever option is chosen, it will be necessary to involve a team of advisors for the many different aspects of divorce and business ownership. New Jersey residents may find the idea of splitting or closing down a business to be overwhelming; however, seeking the appropriate advice will allow both parties to make decisions that are the right ones for them. Moving forward in one's business life need not create additional stress.

Source:, "What to Do When Your Ex Is Your Business Partner", Jackie Zimmerman, June 21, 2017

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