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PERSONAL BUSINESS

3.3.99  
Family Enterprises: What's Love Got to Do with It?
How to Tell If You Can Stay in Business after a Divorce

So you don't love each other any more. But you love the company, and you're both necessary to its success. Can you split at home and still face each other every day at work? Here are some issues to consider:

Why are you staying in business together? Post-divorce partnerships don't work well "if you're held together by economic security rather than a shared vision of where the business is going," says family business lawyer Kay Wakefield.

Do you have a third party with whom you can both talk to as problems emerge? The best of intentions can founder. A mediator or counselor is crucial to keep old issues from souring the partnership.

Can you think of your "ex" walking down the aisle on someone else's arm without flinching? If not, your marriage may not really be behind you. Consider parting before this contentious issue arises.

Do you have an exit strategy in case the partnership goes awry on its new grounds? You don't want to relive the painful logistics of divorce and asset separation twice -- once on a personal level and again through the business, if the partnership fails.

For more on this issue, head over to the following Web sites:

DivorceInfo (www.divorceinfo.com) -- a comprehensive site with information on the legal, financial, and emotional aspects of divorce

Family Firm Institute (www.ffi.org) -- a listing of lawyers, therapists, accountants, educators, and other specialists who advise or work in family businesses

Academy of Family Mediators (www.mediators.org) -- a compendium of trained divorce mediators, some with business specialties



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