Divorce is messy. Divorcing someone involved in your family business can be even messier. A business may be one of your biggest assets, one that you’ve put blood, sweat and tears into. Yet, your spouse probably has too.

Figuring out how to handle a shared business during divorce can be difficult. Here are a few ways to look at the situation that may help.

Things to consider

The first step to understanding how to handle your family business during divorce is to first look at your relationship. Consider how you and your spouse/business partner interact. Do you work well together? Are you able to keep work and personal lives separate?

Now, consider your breakup. Did you and your spouse hurt one another? Are you holding onto anger? Or maybe you were able to have an amicable split and believe you will remain friends.

Finally, think about your business. How important is it to you? Would you be willing to give it up, or do you want to fight to keep it? Would you be able to work with your spouse or run it on your own?

Your business options

As you assess your relationship and your business, begin considering your options for what to do with it. Here are a few ways that you can handle your business:

  • You and your spouse can stay in business together after the divorce. This allows both of you to still contribute to something you have worked hard on, though it will be challenging. Be sure to honestly consider if you and your spouse will be able to keep your business and personal relationships separate.
  • If your spouse is willing to leave the business, you can buy them out (or vice versa). This can be done with liquid funds, or you can give up other shared assets.
  • Sometimes, it’s best to just let things go. If you can’t work with your spouse after divorce and you don’t think buying them out is the best option, it may be time to sell. This can be a great way for both you and your spouse to get a fresh start.

Remember that you will likely have to make decisions about your business with your business partner, your spouse. It’s important that you both are honest about what would be best for your lives and the business.