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Divorce, property division and the fate of your business

Your family business is probably your major asset and it will become the focus when you reach the property division phase of your divorce.

While you cannot split the business in literal terms, you and your spouse do have choices when deciding its fate. Here are three options to consider:

Sell the business

If you have built a successful business, you and your spouse may want to sell it outright and split the profits. With that money in your pocket, you could start another business if you wish. If you decide to list the business, you may wish to consider hiring a Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA), a financial professional with specific credentials and expertise in valuing ongoing businesses, to perform a valuation in order to arrive at the appropriate selling price.

Perform a buyout

You might be the hands-on business owner who manages the day-to-day company operations while your spouse handles the financial side. If your attachment to the business is deeper, you might consider buying out your spouse. Once again, a CVA may be helpful in determining the value. Also, if you do not have the funds required for the buyout, you could propose an even exchange of assets, or structure a payout of your spouse’s interest over a longer period of time.

Continue as co-owners

If you and your spouse believe you could go on working together once the divorce is final, the best option may simply be to continue as co-owners. In this case, you would not need a valuation and, in addition to saving that expense, you would each be able to retain your respective interest in the company. A clearly defined operating agreement may be helpful in avoiding future conflict between you and your former spouse.

Seek professional guidance

Consider your choices carefully as you approach property division. No matter which option you choose, ensure that knowledgeable professionals such as an accountant and a financial advisor become part of your legal team when it is time to decide the fate of your family business.

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