You make the decision to divorce because you know you can’t continue living with your spouse or sharing financial responsibility with them. The more parts of your life you’ve combined, the longer it will take to negotiate or litigate matters.
Family businesses can sometimes contribute to marital strain. Maybe one of you doesn’t take the business seriously enough, or there are disagreements about how you divide responsibilities for the company. On the other hand, you may still work well together despite the conflict in your personal lives. The business will still be a major complication in a divorce.
The more you have invested in the company as a unit and the more dependent each of you is on the business for revenue, the harder it may be for one of you to walk away from the family company. Can you potentially still work together after the divorce?
Cooperation is possible with appropriate protections
Maybe you hope to generate enough sales at your small business to cover your children’s college costs in the upcoming decade. Perhaps there is very little market for your job skills on the local market.
Regardless of the motivation, if you and your ex intend to continue working at the family business together following your divorce, you will need to have very clear rules in place. In fact, you will need contracts. From addressing the ownership of the business to disputes between the two of you, there are many concerns that you will need to address in writing if you want to fully protect yourself.
Thorough contracts outlining job expectations and authority, as well as how you will resolve disputes about the business and what happens if one of you leaves can all help you continue cooperatively running a business possibly owning it jointly as well even after the divorce.
For many people, letting go is simpler and safer
Even if you draft the most comprehensive contracts you can, there’s no guarantee that your ex won’t intentionally sabotage the business later out of spite. For many people, however difficult it may be, finding ways to separate the business or move on professionally will be a better option than trying to continue owning a business together and working at the same company following a divorce.
A careful review of your current circumstances with someone familiar with Tennessee law could help you determine how to realistically approach your business and your career during the early stages of divorce.
Considering the impact of your complex assets as you prepare for divorce will help you live a better life after work.