Partners in Life and Business. What Happens if You Divorce?
It’s the stuff movies are made of: girls gets job, falls for hunky boss, they get married. Sometimes the gender roles in the story are even reversed.
Being married to the boss presents benefits and challenges, during the marriage and in the unfortunate event of divorce.
As for the benefits, there is strength in numbers. Two heads are better than one. The clichés go on.
“I think the biggest benefit of being married to the boss … is the understanding and sharing of a common life vision, for both our family and our business,” writes Mark Rockwell, on his Rockton Software blog. “I don’t have to explain in detail what work was like today when I get home, and likewise I have a co-worker who knows the recent dilemma over my kid’s homework challenges.”
Two members of the Griffith Young & Lass team understand what it’s like to work with a spouse. In addition to comprising two-thirds of the partnership, John Griffith and Catie Young are husband and wife.
One challenge the couple faces is the urge to bring their work home with them.
“Catie loves to talk to me about work at home,” Griffith says. “Under normal circumstances this is a good thing because couples can share their unique experiences at work or at home. However, in our situation I feel like I need to separate work from home because when we talk about work at home I feel like I have no break from work.”
Another challenge Griffith and Young understand well is the sometimes-blurred line between the business partnership and the husband/wife relationship.
“Catie and I have a very close relationship and always have each other’s back,” he says. “However, this loyalty needs to be checked at the door at work—especially considering that we have another partner, Amy (Lass). When a business decision must be made, Catie and I must strive to be independent thinkers and express our opinions and goals independent of our loyalty as husband and wife. This can prove to be very difficult.”
Although they acknowledge the challenges, Griffith and Young enjoy the positive aspects of being business partners and prefer to focus on them. They most enjoy the fact that they’re always together.
They get to set their own schedules, which makes it easy to book family vacations or long weekends.
“We have something in common that we enjoy and we have an opportunity to build a career and a business together—this is fun and exciting,” Griffith says. “Luckily for Catie and me, we are best friends and actually enjoy being around one another a lot.”
But what happens when you no longer enjoy being around each other? What becomes of the business if the marriage ends in divorce? This is another scenario not uncommon to Griffith and Young, since they specialize in family law.
Historically, this primarily has been a concern among men, who account for 71 percent of the business owners in the U.S. But women increasingly must think about this, too. The number of women-owned firms has grown 68 percent since 2007, according to The Atlantic.
In addition to hiring an attorney to help you with your divorce, you also may need a forensic accountant. Among the determinations that must be made is whether your business is considered community or separate property. If you owned the business prior to your marriage, it likely is considered non-marital property. However, any increase in value of the business during your marriage likely is subject to division in a divorce. Even if your spouse is a partner in a business, that portion of the partnership is considered a marital asset.
If you can’t get along well enough to remain married, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to continue working together after divorce. Consult an attorney to help you navigate the situation so you can reach an amicable agreement and prevent a messy split.