Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

The family business: To divide, or not to divide

It is quite easy to get caught up in the excitement and anticipation of starting a new family business when your marriage is going great, the kids are happy, you are financially secure and the two of you just bought your new dream home.

Divorce is the last thing on your mind, so of course it is not something you take into consideration when forming a new business. Spouses who go into business together can and often do end up in divorce and, as a result, have a messy situation to wade through. Business income and assets must be distributed, and they must decide who will keep the business.

There are a few options for couples in this situation. First, if both parties believe they can continue to work together, they may choose to continue co-owning and operating the business. Each party would keep his or her own shares. However, this scenario requires an amicable, respectful business relationship in which each can trust the other to have the best interests of the business at heart when making decisions. It is not for every couple. One pro to this option worth mentioning is that if the couple has children, both parents continuing ownership in the business will protect their future interests.

If co-owning a business with an ex-spouse is not ideal, one party may buy out the other, or both parties may simply agree to sell the business altogether and divide the proceeds. In either of these options, a valuation of the business would need to take place, which can be a costly measure.

Discussing all of your options with an experienced mediator can help you make the best choice for your family.

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Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

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Needham, MA 02494

Phone: 508-507-8742
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