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3 options for family business owners in divorce

When you and your spouse launched your business, you did not think twice about what you would do if you decided to end your marriage. After all, it seemed unlikely at the time. Beyond that, starting the business was fun and exciting. You focused on that part of it more than any worries about the future. It's just not where your mind was back then.

Now you have decided to split up, though, and it has raised all manner of questions. This is a profitable business with a bright future. Is the end of your marriage the end of the company? What options do you have? What do you do now?

These are important questions to ask. To help you start sorting through all of it, here are the main three options:

1. You can sell the company

In a lot of ways, this is easiest, especially with a profitable business. You can sell it, take half of the money, give the other half to your spouse, and move on with your lives. If the company is worth much more than you have invested in it, not only is this an easy way to divide the asset, but you could both take your earnings and start your own businesses if you'd like.

The downside, of course, is that you lose everything you have worked so hard for. Many people cannot bear the thought of giving someone else the business they built from the ground up.

2. You can buy the other half

Maybe your spouse thinks that it would be best to sell, but you don't want to give it up. Another option is to buy his or her half of the company. Granted, this can be expensive, but, if it's possible, this gives you full control. You still "split up" the asset, but you do not lose the company you love.

3. You can work together

Finally, some couples actually do keep right on running the business like they did before the divorce. The marriage ends, but their business relationship stays the same.

This can be ideal if you can work together, especially in amicable divorce cases, but it's important to be honest with yourself. Are you going to be able to work as business partners moving forward? Or is the end of the romantic relationship going to change things too drastically for that to be possible?

Your next steps

The next steps you need to take depend on what option you and your spouse choose. Make sure you understand all of your rights in California and exactly what you need to do during the divorce.

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