Is your family business just another asset in your divorce?

If you and your spouse-business partner have decided to end your marriage, you will soon face the property division phase of your divorce.

You may have put your marital home at the top of your list of assets, but what about the family business? This is an asset, too, and perhaps the most significant one you have. What will become of it?

Consider putting the business up for sale

If you want to sell the business outright, you will first need to hire a business appraiser to place a value on it so that you can decide on the appropriate price. The company may sell quickly, and you would both be able to split the profit and go on with your lives. If it does not sell quickly, you may have to work together longer than you anticipated.

Determine whether one of you could buy the other out

One of you may be more vested in the business than the other. Perhaps you keep the books, but your spouse is in charge of day-to-day operations, sales, marketing and other responsibilities. You could decide to sell your interest, and your spouse may either have to come up with the funds or work out an asset exchange so that each of you gets a fair share. To begin the process, you will still have to have a professional perform a valuation.

Think about continuing as partners

If you have spent years building a well-established presence in the community, the thought of stepping away from the business will likely be heartbreaking. If so, you and your soon-to-be-ex might consider continuing to own and run the business as partners. Some divorced couples can do this, some cannot. You would not need an expensive valuation and you would both be able to keep your respective shares in the company. If your business means more to you than just another asset, and if you believe the two of you could continue to work together, this might be the best solution.

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