Tips for Breaking Up With Your Business Partner

June 17, 2011  |  

(Wall Street Journal) — After two decades as the co-owner of a landscape materials yard in northern California, 57-year-old Debbie Hannan didn’t just retire: She divorced her business partner. Though amicable, the split led to a drawn-out legal battle over the terms of a settlement. The divorce, begun in August 2007, took nearly a year to finally close.  More than 1 million husband-and-wife teams run businesses together, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, and as with most businesses, the recession has put an economic strain on the ventures. At the same time, marriages remain rocky: In spite of data that suggests that married couples postponed divorce for economic reasons during the recession, the divorce rate stayed basically flat from 2005 to 2008, at about 17 per 1,000 married women. And while no one tracks the number of business-owning couples who split, or the number of divorces that also result in the dissolution of a family-owned business, when a business-owning couple splits, the complications are more than Judge Toler can handle.

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