You have questions, questions and more questions when going through a divorce. Who will get to keep the house? Who will get custody of the children? Who will pay alimony, and how much?
Also important is the impact of your personal decision on a more private interest: your business. The issue becomes even more complex when your spouse has a financial stake.
The divorce process will take up much of your time, which is always in short supply anyway. Court dates and divorce lawyers replace business meetings and professional networking. You may have to rely more on your employees, which creates stress and possible resentment. Their decisions in your absence may not always be in line with yours.
If your spouse is active in the business, you have a new set of serious questions. Should you try to buy him or her out? Can you continue to work together? Will you have to pay your spouse with company stock, meaning you own less? At worst, you may consider dissolving the business.
The time to address the impact of a divorce on your business is long before the situation rears its ugly head. Consider a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement covering your business interests. The agreement should address all issues, from how to value the business to how one spouse can buy out the other.
You also can minimize the negative fallout of divorce with sound business practices:
- Never mixing personal and business records.
- Documenting all cash transactions
- Paying yourself a fair market salary to avoid a larger court settlement
Protecting the stability of your business during a divorce is a job in itself. It adds another level of complexity and emotion to an already stressful situation.
You invested your whole life into your marriage. In much the same manner, you do the same with your business.
That is why, even though it sounds cold, you should approach divorce as a business decision. Some of the same skills can prove useful.