Can divorced spouses work together at their family business?

On Behalf of | May 1, 2024 | Divorce |

Family businesses can help people maintain a relatively robust standard of living. If the company is small, one spouse might initially work there alone, but they may tap into their spouse’s skills to support the organization as it grows. It is common for both adults in a family to work for the same family business. That can increase the concern people feel when they prepare for divorce.

Obviously, the need to address a family business could complicate property division matters and have an effect on spousal maintenance. Additionally, the end of a marriage might also lead to one spouse effectively losing their source of income and struggling to rebuild their career.

Is it possible for both spouses to continue working at a family business together following a divorce?

Working together requires careful planning

The emotions that arise during a divorce can undermine the professional relationship between two spouses. People need to be able to set aside their feelings if they both want to continue working at the family business after a divorce.

Factors including the role that each party plays at the business, the overall size of the organization and how frequently the spouses have to interact with each other can influence the chances of them working together well after the divorce. The likelihood of obtaining a decent job elsewhere can also be an important consideration.

Those who attempt to continue working cooperatively at the same business after a divorce may need to negotiate very thorough contracts outlining the expectations for the job, the compensation and how the spouses may address conflicts in the future.

The divorce process can take months to complete, particularly if spouses share minor children with each other. There can be more than enough time between when one spouse and when the courts finalize the divorce for either spouse to secure a new job elsewhere.

People may need to carefully consider whether working with their spouse after their divorce is the best outcome. For many, securing a fair portion of the marital estate and moving on to a new position is preferable. Either way, having realistic ideas about how to handle both employment and an ownership interest in the family business can be beneficial for those concerned about how the end of a marriage might affect the investments they have made in a family-run company.