4 tips for running a business with your ex

You and your spouse started a business together. Then, even as the business continued to thrive, you decided to get divorced. You could both feel that the marriage was falling apart and you wanted to end things before they got worse.

Now what? That business is the main source of income for both of you. What do you do moving forward?

You have a lot of options. You could sell the business to a third party, pocket what you earn, and move on. You could buy out your spouse's half of the business and keep running it on your own. You could sell your half to your spouse and cut ties with both the relationship and the company.

Or, you could keep running it together. This is certainly not the right solution for all couples, but it does happen and some experts claim it happens even more frequently than most people realize. If this is the route you decide to take, here are four tips that can help:

1. Make sure employees do not pick sides

Employees may feel like they should side with you or with your ex. Make sure they don't do this. Demonstrate unity so they don't feel pressured. Lead by example. Show them that you are all willing to work together for the good of the company.

2. Respect one another

You and your ex must respect each other professionally and learn how to have a business relationship. It can't get bogged down with anger, resentment or bitterness. If that is how you feel -- a common thing for many divorced couples -- then it may not be wise to work together. At the very least, you might want to work with a therapist to iron out these issues so that you can focus on the business.

3. Define those new roles

You may have shared duties before, as a couple. Now that you're just co-workers, define your roles more clearly. What is expected of both of you? How do you both serve the business? You need to know exactly where you stand, just like any other employee.

4. Draft a partnership agreement

During your marriage, you may have felt you did not need any sort of legal agreement to work together. Now you do. Protect yourself and the business. Write out a contract talking about investments, earnings, pay, roles, duties, responsibilities and obligations. Set this up the way you would with any other business partner. Make it official.

Moving forward

Ironing out your divorce is important, but business owners have to keep the company in mind through every step of the process. Make sure you know how to set things up and protect your rights if you and your ex want to keep that professional relationship alive.

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