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The Business of Divorce

By Nottage and Ward on September 10, 2018

This fictional scenario is one that Chicago couples face every day.

Tom used to take his wife Abby’s pork tamales to his office every Thursday. It didn’t take long before they were a big hit—not just in his office, but in the whole building. “We were going through so many that I had to charge for them and keep receipts. Abby and I thought, why not make a real business out of this? We could do the food truck thing. That’s what people do, right?”

Within a year, Abby’s Tamale Truck was a regular sight at concerts and sporting events, and near the bars after closing time. After a couple more years, Tom and Abby had a restaurant that was a huge success, but that prosperity came at a price: it cost them their marriage.

This is a familiar story that we hear in the world of divorce: a married couple goes into business together, only to find that the long hours and added stress have separated them emotionally and led to their eventual breakup.

Let’s look at the legal side of this complicated issue.

To begin with, all married couples going into business together should keep their eyes open: they may divorce or end the business one day. This is not pessimistic; it’s simply reality. Amid the roll-up-your-sleeves, nitty-gritty hard work in the early days of starting a business, it’s common for a couple to not look far enough down the road to prepare for potential hazards.

The business that a couple owns is likely the most valuable asset that each of them will claim in a divorce. At the outset of the business, it’s a good idea for couples to clearly delineate between what’s shared as a business and what’s shared as a married couple. When things get emotional, the lines get blurred.

Before rushing into the devastating process of splitting up the marriage and the business, it’s a good idea to take some time on your own. Take a vacation separately. Spend some time alone and think about the situation with a clear heart and mind. New solutions may present themselves.

As you might imagine, a divorce for a married couple with a business is full of landmines. If you are in business with your spouse and contemplating a divorce, call the legal team at Nottage and Ward, LLP. Our Chicago divorce business valuation lawyers have handled many of these cases to the satisfaction of our clients. Call (312) 332-2915 to set up a consultation today.

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