When business partners divorce, who gets custody of the commerce?

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. posted in Divorce on Tuesday, June 5, 2012

St. Louis small business partners often have close, personal ties: they not only work hard together to make their business successful, but they sometimes dine together, play together, sleep together and raise children together. You guessed it: the partners in business are often married, making them partners in life as well.

But “partners in life” doesn’t necessarily mean “partners for life.” As we all know, marriages often end in divorce. When the marriages of business partners come apart, the two often find that they while they’ve might have worked out agreements on who does what in the business and how profits and responsibilities are shared, they haven’t written down what will happen to the company if the marriage comes apart.

One woman featured in a newspaper article on divorcing business partners said she found that after her marriage broke up, she found her former husband and still-then business partner making deals without her knowledge. She eventually found herself forbidden to even enter the business premises.

“I’ve ended up being cut out of a business that is as important to me as a child I helped raise,” she said.

An attorney interviewed for the article said many married small business partners have no business agreements in place of any sort, including agreements on what happens if the marriage fails. But these kinds of agreements aren’t the sort that can only be worked out at the start of the marriage or with the founding of the business.

They can be forged at any time between willing partners with the aid of knowledgeable attorneys.

Source: The Globe and Mail, “Divorces mess up firms as much as families,” June 4, 2012

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