Safeguarding the family business when co-preneurs split

21 April 2011 | Written by Jones Myers

Times are tough enough for any business in the current economic climate, but economic pressures often bring added challenges for husband and wife teams sharing the strains of running a family business.

When a divorce or separation becomes inevitable between two business partners, or “co-preneurs” as they are often referred to, there is a myriad of hurdles to be overcome to safeguard the family business.

If you’re in this situation you will know the importance of preventing personal emotions affecting the company. Divorce is acknowledged as one of life’s most stressful experiences and it can be virtually impossible to prevent personal feelings from spilling over into the workplace and damaging the business interests.

Collaborative law is an area in which we are highly experienced at Jones Myers. It can be the most constructive and least painful approach to finding a financial solution when a divorce involves the added complication of a family business in which both partners are involved. The collaborative approach sees both parties and their lawyers working together on problems face-to-face, with additional professional advisers such as accountants on hand when necessary. It aims to resolve matters amicably and without the case going to court.

The advantages over the more traditional – and adversarial route – are numerous. As there re is no artificial timetable imposed, an intensive series of meetings over a short timeframe can resolve issues, leading to an early resolution and a rapid return to the business needs.

If more time is required – perhaps because there is a big contract in the offing, or recruitment issues to sort out – then collaboration enables the process to be slowed down to accommodate one or both parties.

Instead of the judge and lawyers working to an agenda set by the courts, collaborative law means that couples can come up with tailor-made and creative solutions to their own problems.

Talking about the future of your business, and who will run it in a calm and supportive atmosphere, is infinitely preferable to the hostility and acrimony that all too often permeates traditional divorce proceedings – and can be damaging enough to derail couples and their businesses.

Share with us your thoughts about divorce and the family business. Comment below or contact us here.

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