You have worked hard to build your small business in Tampa Bay or Greater Sarasota. Your dreams and future are intertwined with your company. But, now, you are facing divorce, and you are worried about how this will affect your small business. You know there are quite a few issues that you will have to deal with. Child custody, division of property and debts, and child and spousal support all need to be addressed.
But what happens to your small business?
Florida law considers a small business to be an asset. Just like a house, just like a car, just like a couch, a business is valued and either divided, sold, or given to one spouse or the other.
Small Business and Traditional Divorce
In a traditional court-based divorce, each party hires his or her own forensic account to value the company. Each attorney conducts a deposition to question the other spouse’s expert under oath. Next, tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent preparing for trial and proving one spouse’s expert right and the other expert wrong.
In the meantime, the company suffers. The business’ financials become public knowledge and available to competitors. The owners are exhausted, and they cannot provide the business with the attention it needs. Employees sense the discord and feel caught in the middle. And customers begin taking their business elsewhere.
But there is a different way.
Collaborative Divorce and Your Small Business
In collaborative divorce, you and your spouse work together. You find a resolution that works for you and your small business. You each have your own attorneys to advise you, but the attorneys are specially-trained to proceed in a non-adversarial way. Discussions are respectful and confidential, so trade secrets can be kept private. No time, energy, or money is spent preparing for trial.
You and your spouse have a neutral facilitator with a specialty in communication and family dynamics. The facilitator helps you and your spouse focus on your future rather than the arguments of the past. This means that less tension will permeate your company.
Additionally, rather than each party hiring dueling experts, you and your spouse hire a neutral financial professional that will value your business. This amounts to major savings in the divorce process. It also means less disruption to your company. The neutral financial can also provide options about the best way to handle the business post-divorce.
You have shed blood, sweat, and tears to build your small business. Your company does not have to be a casualty of the traditional divorce process. Collaborative divorce is a better option.
Adam B. Cordover is one of Tampa Bay’s most experienced collaborative attorneys. He is editor and co-author of an upcoming American Bar Association book on collaborative family law, and he is a member of the Research Committee of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.