11th October 2017

I own a business with my spouse and we are separating: what do we do?

Many couples going through a divorce have assets to divide between them, such as a family home, investments and pensions. However, often in our work matters are complicated by the fact that the parties own a business together.

Very few people would choose to run a business with someone they have just separated from, yet a business is not always easy to value and cannot necessarily just be sold. On the contrary, a family business may need to continue operating to ensure that the family’s income stream is not cut off, particularly if there are dependent children involved.

If one party is to take over the business then its value and what cash it could produce is important as the party transferring their interest may need to receive a pay out, or more from the other assets in lieu of their interest. Ideally this is something that can be established with the help of the company’s accountant.

Where only one party has been involved in the day to day running of a business, the other party may be sceptical about the true value and there are often suspicions as to whether the party hoping to retain the business is downplaying its success. In such circumstances, we often work with a forensic accountant to obtain an objective view of value etc.

There can be further complications with selling business assets, with employment rights, shareholdings, and many other issues. Where the business is a company or partnership, company and partnership law must also be addressed. Our team of family solicitors are experienced in this field and aim to work out a solution which is tailored to the family concerned. Alongside our family law advice, we can also provide commercial and/or employment advice as needed. We are very experienced in resolving such matters without involving the Court, using mediation, collaborative law, arbitration and other alternatives, but are equally used to dealing with such cases before the Court.

When a business is involved, it is even more important to seek early advice: the sooner you know the options, the better the chances of finding the best one for you.

If you a have any queries or would like some advice, please do call us on 01730 268211 or email

N.B. Please note that the above information is a guide only and does not constitute legal advice. We recommend seeking specialist legal advice on your own particular circumstances.