Divorcing doesn’t have to ruin the family business in Pennsylvania

Small businesses are the heart and soul of the economy in Bucks County and throughout the rest of the country. According to the Small Business Administration, approximately 90 percent of all of the businesses in the U.S. are family owned and run. Running a small family business comes with several advantages, like more convenience, flexibility and lower employment costs. However, things can quickly get complicated when the owners of the business decide to separate and divorce.

It all starts with the prenuptial agreement

Before a couple even says "I do," they should already be planning for their financial future with a prenuptial agreement. This document acts as an insurance policy in case divorce ever becomes part of the equation. One of the mistakes that small business owners often make is not drafting this important document until it's too late since they previously believed that divorce would never become an option. However, according to Forbes, over 50 percent of married couples in the U.S. eventually divorce so obtaining a prenuptial agreement should be a priority for all married couples, and those that own a business together in particular.

This agreement should be in writing, provide a full disclosure of the business' assets and liabilities, be executed by both parties and without coercion from one side and documented in a recordable format.

Making it work after the divorce is finalized

Just because a marriage is ending doesn't mean that the business has to go down along with it. Divorced couples can still stay in business together and be successful if:

  • They are rational and consider compromise.
  • They hire an independent business appraiser as part of the divorce proceedings.
  • They consider how their roles will shift in the workplace after they are divorced.
  • The business stays relatively the same and doesn't undergo any big changes until after the divorce is finalized.

Although it can be a daunting task to split with a partner and still maintain a business, it can be done with a little work and a lot of communication. For example, according to Businessweek, a divorced couple that owns a bakery in the Boston area worth $2.5 million has been in business together for over 35 years. The couple, who were married briefly from 1979 to 1981, found that although their marriage didn't work they were able to keep their business going out of admiration for the each other's business skills.

If you and your spouse are considering divorce and are concerned about the future of your family business, contact an attorney in your area that can work through these concerns and ensure that you and your spouse are able to transition smoothly from being marital partners to business partners. You should also realize that a business has value and a competent attorney can assist in ensuring that both partners get value for the efforts they contributed to the business and find ways to separate while preserving the business.

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