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Divorce and the family business

Specialist legal advice to help protect your business in a divorce

Going through a divorce or separation can be challenging enough for anyone – but for business owners there’s also a company to run and protect, which your soon-to-be-ex partner may feel they’re entitled to claim a share of.

At Clarke Willmott, we’ve been working with business owners and family farms since 1888. This has given us an unequalled, in-depth understanding of the problems that can arise when a divorce affects business interests.

If you’re a business owner going through divorce, we can help you to reach a fair result that safeguards your business without ceding too much of your personal wealth. We can also advise you on how best to protect your business should your marriage break down in the future. Call 0800 422 0123 or get in touch online to book an initial consultation to discuss your situation with a divorce solicitor well-versed in the challenges faced by family business owners.

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What happens to a business in a divorce?

If you own or have an interest in a business, that business is an asset and its value will be considered by the Courts when agreeing a divorce financial settlement.

However, a business is not a liquid asset and, therefore, isn’t treated in the same way as cash or investments. Extracting cash from your business can be difficult and there are likely to be tax implications.

Any business interests owned by either spouse, such as shares in a limited company and interest in a partnership, will also be considered as part of the financial disclosure. For a family farm, that could include the family home.

Only on rare occasions does divorce mean a business needs to be sold. What’s important is to get the right legal advice early on to mitigate any potential risk to your business, whilst also ensuring a fair outcome is reached.

Divorce settlement advice for business owners

Our specialist divorce solicitors can advise on how your business and its assets should be dealt with in a divorce settlement, including:

  • Fairly and accurately valuing your business for divorce
  • Advising on financial claims made against the business
  • Removing a spouse who has a role in the business
  • Dividing a business where the divorcing spouses do not wish to remain business partners
  • Going to Court to negotiate a settlement, if required

What sets our family law solicitors apart from others for divorce involving a family business is that we are able to draw on legal expertise from across the firm whenever it’s needed, including specialists in commercial law and agricultural law.

Protecting your business against divorce

Planning ahead can significantly reduce the impact of divorce on a business. Our multi-disciplinary team of solicitors can help you:

1. Enter into a pre or postnuptial agreement

Drawing up a pre-nuptial agreement (or post nuptial agreement if you’re already married) can help minimise future claims against your business. We will ensure any agreement clearly sets out exactly what, if anything, your spouse will be entitled to if you do decide to divorce.

2. Minimise the risk to your business

If you have a share in a family farm, or a business established before your marriage, we can help you minimise any claims on it, for example:

  • Separating your business and marital finances to reduce the chances of your spouse making a successful claim on the business in the future.
  • Exploring whether there is any benefit in involving your spouse in your business, and, if so, the best way to achieve this.
  • Advising on suitable business structures and trusts.

3. Negotiate a fair divorce settlement

Reaching a divorce settlement when there’s a family business involved can be challenging. However, we can help you come to a mutual agreement with your spouse that you both believe is fair – through mediation or collaborative law where appropriate. If these options aren’t suitable or fail to resolve the situation, we can negotiate on your behalf.

Our family law team is highly experienced in dealing with complicated issues such as pre-marital assets, business interests and pension sharing arrangements. We can also investigate potentially hidden assets and, if necessary, appoint experts to help, such as a forensic accountant.

Why family business owners choose our divorce solicitors

  • Extensive commercial knowledge and business acumen
  • Understanding of the unique dynamics of family businesses
  • Access to specialist legal expertise from across the firm
  • Highly rated for family law in The Legal 500 and Chambers Guide
  • Members of Resolution and committed to its principles
  • Trained mediators and collaborative lawyers on the team
  • Efficient working practices to keep costs down

Try our relationship breakdown tool

Our Parting Ways tool is a great first step in guiding you through the legalities of a relationship breakdown. If your marriage, civil partnership or co-habiting relationship has broken down irreparably, our free easy-to-use tool provides an overview of what you need to consider from a legal perspective.

It only takes a few minutes to complete, and you will receive a guide tailored to your responses. You will not be asked for any personal information unless you decide you would like to speak with one of our solicitors.

Get your guide

Contact a specialist divorce and business solicitor

For specialist legal advice on protecting your business from divorce, call 0800 422 0123 or get in touch online to arrange a consultation. Our divorce and family law solicitors are based in Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Southampton and Taunton.

Your key contacts

Rayner Grice

Partner

Birmingham
Rayner advises on the issues that arise for an individual following the breakdown of a relationship in relation to divorce/civil partnership dissolution, their financial affairs and their children.
View profile for Rayner Grice >

Adam Maguire

Partner

Birmingham
Adam specialises in divorce and family law. He advises clients regarding all aspects of private family law including cohabitation, separation, divorce and related financial issues, disputes concerning children and nuptial agreements.
View profile for Adam Maguire >

Clare Webb

Partner

Bristol
Clare has built her practice with a commitment to helping her clients resolve their issues in a constructive and conciliatory way. In doing so, she will always have regard to the longterm hopes and aspirations for the family as a whole, whilst of course protecting her client’s interest.
View profile for Clare Webb >

Philippa Yeo

Partner

Bristol
Philippa is committed to helping couples navigate all aspects of the legal process on the breakdown of their relationship in a pragmatic, collaborative and family-focused way including supporting couples to reach arrangements for their children and achieve healthy future co-parenting relationships.
View profile for Philippa Yeo >

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