Managing the Family Business

Managing the Family Business in Divorce Mediation

Many people are aware of common divorce issues like child custody, spousal support and the fate of the family home. But, for the many married couples who own and operate a business together in Alberta, the fate of the family business can be one of the hardest things to tackle in divorce mediation. There are many ways to approach this delicate issue, each of which has its own pros and cons.

In some cases, couples will agree to continue working together. This can work, but both people need to be committed and agree to certain ground rules about how to maintain boundaries in the working relationship. If kids also work in the business, these conversations are particularly important. 

Those who choose not to continue working together will likely need to either shutter the business or one will need to buy the other out of their interest. Including the buyout of the business in the divorce settlement can make it a bit cleaner and put the decision in the context of the breakup. Those who choose to sell their business and split the proceeds will need to discuss whether that money should be split equally, or if there is a more fair division of assets in light of other property (for example, one person may want to keep the family home while the other may keep the bulk of business sale proceeds).

Working together with a former partner can be difficult, but it is not impossible. Discussing options through the divorce mediation process can help Alberta couples understand all possible options so they can feel comfortable with the choices made. A family lawyer from the province can support this mediation to ensure a smooth and legally sound process.