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4 options when divorce threatens your family business

A decade ago, when you and your spouse launched your family business, you thought the marriage was rock solid. You both felt excited to work together and see your dream evolve.

For the first few years, it went very well. Then, even though the business was doing better than ever, your marriage started coming apart. You stuck with it as long as you could, but then your spouse came out and asked for a divorce.

Now you're not sure what to do. Is the business over? Is it too connected to your marriage, to your relationship? Below are four options:

1. Sell the company to a third party.

A lot of couples decide to end the marriage and their involvement in the company. They sell it off to someone else who is looking to invest in a company. This way, you and your ex can really cut ties. Plus, you may make a handsome profit since your company was doing so well, and you can use that to start your next business venture.

2. Sell your half of the company to your spouse.

The amount of disposable income your spouse has on hand really makes the difference here. Selling out still gets you the influx of cash noted above, cutting you out of the company while leaving your spouse to run it. You can start your own business. This way, the company survives -- and may still get passed to your children, if you have any -- but you don't have to work together.

3. Buying your spouse's half.

Naturally, the opposite move is also possible here. If you have the money, or can get a loan, you can have a valuation done and pay your ex the value of his or her half of the company. You keep it, he or she moves on, and everyone wins. You and your ex have to decide which person loves the company and wants it more.

4. Working together even after divorce.

This may sound unconventional, but you can stay business partners even if you're not married. Try to keep your personal life and your professional life separate. You work with plenty of other people you're not married to; why does your ex have to be any different?

This does take a large amount of cooperation on your part. You both have to prioritize the company over your own feelings. If you can, it's perhaps the easiest solution. Draft a partnership agreement to clearly define your new roles.

Your decision

As you make your decision and move forward with the divorce, make sure you fully understand all of your legal rights and the proper steps to take.

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