Couples who are happy in their marriage seldom consider what could happen if they split. After all, you’ll be ending up together forever like the fairy tales they used to read you before bedtime, right? Wrong. According to data, divorce rates are much higher in developed countries such as the UK, US, and Germany, with 48% of couples ending their vows in less than 25 years of marriage. Thus, it is important to be rational and realistic, especially if you own and manage a business together or separately.
The reality is that divorce can have far-reaching adverse effects on a firm as much as its toll on the personal and emotional aspects. Acknowledging the damage it can cause and put any safeguards in place before everything goes south will be critical to your company’s long-term sustainability.
Divorce is infamous for interfering with the normal flow of life. It competes for your time, drawing you further from your management duties. In a blink of an eye, you’ll find yourself showing up in court, discussing legal matters, and hiring an experienced divorce lawyer to meet paperwork requirements about your marriage and your firm. These are time-consuming and stressful but equally helpful and vital to stitch everything back to a ‘better normal.’
Your predicament can also affect your employee’s performance and divert their attention away from the usual workflow. On-site visits from the appraisers would require employee interviews for inventory reviews, analysis of tax returns, and how you operate and control the costs and profits of the firm.
Ramifications for your business partners and staff
If your company stake is divisible in the event of a separation, how will you allocate a portion of the value to your soon-to-be-ex? Consider the possible impact if you wind up with a reduced interest in the firm, become an unwelcome partner, or impact the firm’s stock value should your soon-to-be-ex choose to put their shares in the market. It would be best to talk about all of this with your lawyer, including any limits that would apply to the other party’s actions.
This stress can also make your workers feel uneasy and subject your company to legal matters, such as employment law difficulties linked to the influence of interpersonal dynamics on the workplace.
Complete dissolution of the company
Don’t be alarmed: this is not the typical effect of divorce on a company. Nevertheless, if both of you are active in managing the company, you can agree to shut it down. Alternatively, if your spouse is entitled to a significant cash reward for their portion of the firm’s worth and you lack the equity to pay them, you could be obliged to sell or liquidate the firm to pay your ex.
Another possibility is a series of unpleasant incidents, such as delays to your activities and production, resulting in inadequate contact with clients and business partners, negative news that harms your brand image, and discourages individuals from doing business with you.
Positive Actions to Neutralize the Negative Consequences
The fact of the matter is that you can take steps right now to avoid or minimize these threats to your business. The most successful strategy is to draft a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that details how you will divide the company’s assets if things get sour.
Bill and Melinda Gates’s divorce after 27 years of marriage serves as a cautionary tale for business owners, the baby boomer demographic, and long-married clientele. Preparing for the worse as early as now can help set your mind at peace and minimize any dispute or ambiguity if you find yourself across the negotiation table.
Maintaining a separation between business and personal spending, keeping detailed lists on your financial sources, regardless of if they were premarital or marital funds, and ensuring that you comprehensively document all monetary transactions will allow you to shield your business against the effects of divorce. At the same time, you go about managing your firm.
Moreover, if you feel that a divorce is impending, remember to take the necessary steps to reduce disturbance at your office. For example, try to maintain a single master file on your personal computer or notebook for divorce-related things. For privacy and confidentiality, use your private email for marital communications and disputes. It’s also an excellent note to set boundaries and avoid discussing your personal issues with employees and friends. Draw a line between your private and professional life and make sure that people around you are aware of it, too.
Manage your time and schedule well, and allot a day or two to focus your attention on calls and communications with your lawyers regarding the matter. Although divorce can harm your company, proactive preparation and accepting its consequences early on will help you safeguard it.