Tips for Splitting Assets: When Entrepreneurs Divorce

by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach on October 16, 2009

in Couples and Money, Entrepreneurship


The owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Frank McCourt, is in divorce talks with his wife Jamie, the CEO for the team. This power couple is one of 1.2 million husband-and-wife teams who run a business together, according to the National Federation for Independent Business. And when couples split, often so can the business.

John Moores sold the Padres earlier this year as a result of the petition for divorce his wife, Becky Moores, filed a year earlier. They then divvied up the proceeds.

It is rare that couples who divorce can remain doing business together. So, what should you do with your business assets if you divorce from your spouse with whom you do business? Here are some tips.


Buy the other spouse out. This is a good choice if one spouse started the business, or is more passionate about it. You can trade his or her stake for other assets, such as equity in the home or a greater share of the retirement accounts. Or you can take out a loan to pay cash.

Sell it and divide the profits. Some small businesses are tough to sell, especially in today’s economy, but if the company operates profitably, then it’s possible to find a buyer. Start seeking buyers sooner rather than later before any divorce animosity can tour the business sour.

Split it in two. This only works well if the company has separate units that can be spun off from one another. If you go for this option, you may want to have a valuation done to determine the worth of each unit. Because once the company is split and the divorce is final, it will be a lot harder to go back and make a claim to other business if yours fails and your ex-partner’s takes off.


Speed up the succession plan. Since many family businesses often name children as successors, a divorcing couple with adult children may be able to choose this option. Each spouse could possibly stay on as a silent partner with a small stake in the business, so long as you are willing to let your children run the business. This is hard to do even when divorce is not part of the picture!


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Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach

Personal Finance Expert and Co-Founder at Ask The Money Coach.com
Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach is a personal finance expert, speaker, and author of numerous books on personal finance. She appears frequently as an expert commentator on television, radio and in print.

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