Running a small business is tough enough. Running a small business while your marriage is falling apart can be crushing. But you don’t need to go through a traditional court battle if divorce is on the horizon. Your business does not need to be a casualty. There is an alternative. There is collaborative divorce.
Small Business & Privacy
Collaborative divorce is a form of out-of-court dispute resolution that values privacy. This means that your client lists, inventory details, and other trade secrets remain safely away from public court records. In fact, here in Florida, the Collaborative Law Process Act and accompanying rules safeguard most communications had within a collaborative divorce. Courts now have authority to sanction a party who reveals a collaborative law communication.
A Team Approach to Divorce
In a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse are represented by separate attorneys. Unlike traditional divorce, however, your attorneys are working together as a team rather than as “opposing counsel.” Similarly, you and your spouse are not “opposing parties” but rather teammates or co-parents. Everyone is working together towards a common goal: helping you and your spouse move on with your lives without harming your kids or your small business.
You both work together with a neutral financial professional. This differs from traditional divorce, where the parties typically retain “hired gun” dueling experts to duke it out in court. The collaborative neutral financial professional helps ensure transparency so both spouses can make informed decisions about their financial futures. The financial professional can also provide alternatives to expensive full scale business valuations if you and your spouse agree.
Additionally, in the collaborative process, we want to make sure that your small business does not become a victim of the emotional crises that many face while going through divorce. This is why we also employ a neutral facilitator, who is a communication specialists and keeps an eye on the emotional pulse of discussions. The facilitator is a licensed psychologist, counselor, therapist, or social worker, although he or she is not conducting therapy. Rather, the facilitator helps keep conversations productive and prevents them from going off the rails. Moreover, the facilitator focuses discussions on the future, such as the health and success of your small business, rather than on the arguments that brought you to divorce.
How To Begin
To help protect your small business in divorce, your first step is to contact a collaborative divorce attorney. Keep in mind that not all divorce attorneys are collaboratively-trained. Your small business’ future may depend on the divorce attorney and divorce process that you choose.
Adam B. Cordover is a collaborative family law attorney and author of an upcoming American Bar Association book on collaborative divorce. He trains lawyers, mental health professionals, financial professionals, and mediators how to help families in a better way via the collaborative process.