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Keeping The Business Running During a Divorce

If you’re running a business, and you intend to keep running it, think beyond the issues of the divorce proceeding—think outside the box, if you will. You have more than just the division of property to consider. A business usually suffers when a key person is unavailable, and being in the midst of a divorce can be disabling. What are your options? The most effective way to minimize the damage to your business is to settle the case at the first opportunity to do so reasonably. You’ll prevent far more in losses than you may spend in sweetening your settlement proposal to put this dispute behind you.

Remember Mike? He had planned way ahead to have a buy-sell agreement for the shares of stock of his business executed long before there was any dispute. The agreement set a formula to compute the amount that Tara, or any other shareholder, would get for these shares. Mike was elated when he saw the agreement would be upheld. Perhaps, because he acted so elated in “winning” this issue, disputes started to pop up everywhere in the divorce. Tara was acting out because she thought she should have gotten more for her shares. The case dragged on. Mike’s coworkers and shareholders complained that he lacked his usual imagination. One clear casualty was a desirable contract that the business lost. Even though Mike was legally correct regarding the value of the stock, it would have cost him less to be generous at the outset and offer Tara something more in settlement than she could get in court. But, if Mike had not gloated about the buy-sell agreement, Tara might not have ever reacted as she did.

William tried mediation, usually a sensible approach, in hopes of preserving his business. Unfortunately, it failed to work for William and Brenda who had been fighting ever since they gave up on mediation. William started spending all his time fighting Brenda, who didn’t work outside the home, on every issue. William had a small business with only a few employees; properly managed, it had provided them with a luxuriant life style. It was worthless by the time they got their divorce.

There are alternatives to paying tribute to end your case quickly. One approach is to hire someone to help you during your divorce. If your business is "your baby," you may be reluctant to turn over the reins. Bring in an administrative assistant to relieve you of some of the details, ensure you meet deadlines and be alert for arising problems. If you have a small business, perhaps everyone can take a portion of the responsibility normally handled on the level above him or her. This will take some of the load off of you, and all you have to do is add some help at the lowest level.