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What if your business partner is your ex?

When you start a business with your spouse as your partner, you hope for the best. However, if the business sours, the strain placed on the marriage can be overcome. But is the reverse true? If you get a divorce, will your business soon fall apart? It does not have to.

Many couples who share the dream of owning their own business are mutually supportive in the beginning. It was a give and take enterprise, but if the marriage ends, it is possible to apply some family law thinking to keep your business alive.

Partnership agreements and prenuptial agreements are similar

Starting a business is as exciting as starting a new relationship. In both cases, you are diving headlong into a new world, but there is a benefit to moving slowly. However unromantic it might be, both prenuptial and partnership agreements help protect you in the long term. The best possible scenario is that you have a plan in place for the future that you never have to use.


Even if you did not get a prenuptial agreement, you can still draft a new partnership agreement with your former spouse. It might be best to look at the business you have with your ex as if you were sharing custody of a child. You are both going to be working for the best interests of the business, just as you would with the kids. You will have disagreements, but you will also have plenty of common ground to work with because ultimately you want what is best for your kids and your business.

Working together does not mean living together

While your marriage did not last, that is no reason to believe your business cannot. It will just be a matter of mentally transitioning your former spouse, to a co-worker. If you can do that — if you can let go of any painful leftovers from the marriage — you might find a valuable business partner where you once had a difficult spouse. Then, at the end of the day, you can go home without them.

Addressing the business in divorce

Not all exes are able to continue working together after divorce. It may be the best course of action to negotiate a settlement to divide the business as a marital asset. Business valuation issues are complex, especially for closely held, family businesses. These disputes often require business valuation professionals and other expert witnesses. It is important to work with a sophisticated family law attorney who knows how to prepare the evidence to build a strong case to protect you and your business interests.