top of page

Navigating Divorce: Managing Family-Owned Businesses with Your Ex

managing business with ex


Divorce is undoubtedly one of life's most challenging experiences, especially when it involves not just separating lives but also shared assets and responsibilities. For couples who have built and managed a family-owned business together, the complexities can seem insurmountable. However, amidst the emotional turmoil, there lies an opportunity for constructive resolution, particularly when it comes to the fate of the family business.

As a divorce mediator with years of experience, I've witnessed firsthand the unique dynamics that arise when couples face the prospect of dividing, selling, or continuing to operate a family-owned business post-divorce. One common misconception is that divorce signifies the end of all joint ventures, including those in the professional realm. 


However, that's not necessarily the case.

Divorcing couples must understand that the decision regarding the family business doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing scenario. There are various paths forward, each with its own set of considerations and implications. Here's a closer look at the options:

  1. Division: In some cases, dividing the business equitably between both spouses may be the most straightforward solution. This could involve splitting ownership or assets, allowing each party to pursue independent ventures. While this approach may seem clean-cut on the surface, it often requires careful evaluation of the business's structure, value, and future viability.

  2. Sale: Selling the business and dividing the proceeds can provide a clean break, eliminating ongoing financial ties between ex-spouses. However, this option may not be ideal if one or both parties have a strong attachment to the business or rely on its income for livelihood. Additionally, finding a suitable buyer and negotiating a fair sale price can be time-consuming and challenging.

  3. Continued Operation: Surprisingly, many couples find that they can continue to work together professionally even after divorcing personally. Transitioning from spouses to co-workers requires a significant degree of maturity, professionalism, and mutual respect. However, for some couples, this arrangement allows them to maintain stability for their employees, preserve the legacy of the business, and safeguard their financial interests.


Choosing the right path forward requires open communication, realistic expectations, and a willingness to prioritize the long-term success and well-being of all involved parties. As a divorce mediator, my role is to facilitate constructive dialogue, explore creative solutions, and guide couples toward mutually beneficial agreements.



Here are some key considerations for divorcing couples navigating the complexities of a family-owned business:

Professionalism: While emotions may run high during divorce proceedings, it's essential to maintain a professional demeanor, especially in business interactions. Clear boundaries and communication protocols can help prevent conflicts from spilling over into the workplace.

Legal and Financial Guidance: Seeking advice from legal and financial professionals who specialize in divorce and business matters is crucial. These experts can provide valuable insights, assist with valuation, and ensure that any agreements reached are legally sound and financially equitable.

Future Planning: Regardless of the chosen path, it's essential to have a clear plan for the future of the business. This may involve updating ownership structures, revising operational agreements, or implementing succession plans to safeguard the business's continuity and longevity.

Self-Care and Support: Divorce is a challenging journey, both personally and professionally. It's essential for individuals to prioritize self-care, seek support from friends and family, and consider professional counseling or therapy to navigate the emotional complexities of divorce and co-parenting.


Ultimately, the decision regarding the family-owned business should align with the unique circumstances and goals of the divorcing couple. While the road ahead may be fraught with challenges, it's also an opportunity for growth, resilience, and a renewed sense of autonomy. By approaching the process with empathy, collaboration, and a commitment to finding common ground, couples can emerge from divorce with their dignity intact and their professional endeavors safeguarded for the future.

3 views0 comments


bottom of page