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Divorce and the family-owned business: a concern for many couples

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Massachusetts and all across the country. Many married couples are embarking on business ventures together. Unfortunately, even if a business is performing well, divorce happens, and soon-to-be ex-spouses may wonder how a divorce will affect the future of their business.

Family-owned businesses can be exciting, but they can also be the cause of significant stress. This is particularly true when the personal lives of the owners — specifically those who are married are to each other — are in disarray. Removing emotions from business is not an easy thing to do, especially when a business is something both parties have worked so hard to build.

In the interest of protecting a business’s future, spouses can set terms in a pre- or post-nuptial agreement for how the family firm will be managed in the event of divorce. While it is possible for divorced couples to continue to successfully operate a business together — communication is key in making such an arrangement work — some may feel the need to separate themselves from anything that ties them together. When this is the feeling, terms regarding the future of the business can be included in the property division portion of a divorce settlement.

As approximately 3.7 million couples across the country own and operate businesses together, the issue of what to do with a business in the event of a divorce is likely to enter the minds of some couples in Massachusetts. Legal assistance is available to find a resolution for how to manage or divide a family-owned business if a divorce is sought by either spouse. A pre- or post-nuptial agreement can be drawn up to address the issue as a proactive measure, but, if such a document was not created, it is possible to negotiate and include terms during divorce proceedings that both parties will find acceptable.

Source:, “Divorce Doesn’t Have To Mean Closing Family Business“, Amy Alexander, March 11, 2015


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