Don’t let divorce break your business
Victoria Moreton, partner and specialist in Family Law with Tilly Bailey & Irvine Solicitors, recommends business owners select their divorce lawyer carefully to ensure that the break up of the marriage does not leave cracks in their business.
The current economic crisis is putting enough strain on the region’s businesses. There is an additional factor which, should it occur, could add to the stresses and increase the risks – divorce. When a business owner is ending their marriage, it is vital that he or she seeks appropriate legal advice, and often further complementary professional advice too. This is to ensure that the business remains intact, and can continue affected as little as possible by the changes in personal circumstances.
In my 19 years working in family law, I have represented clients with significant incomes and capital, and with their own businesses including farms. responsibility to and for the business can compound the feelings experienced during divorce – feelings not only of sadness, and worry, but often also of frustration and anger.
The job of the lawyer must be to support and advise throughout the process, all the while understanding any element that could be affected by the divorce. Divorce is sad and often stressful. However, should one or both parties run a business, the worry can be felt by a wider of circle of people. Employees might fear for their jobs or, if the business is family-owned, relatives might add pressure if they feel their livelihoods are being put at risk.
It is vital to engage legal support from a firm with experience in all the relevant fields. Alongside family law, there may be the need for corporate or commercial property law. In the case of farms, an expertise in agricultural law would also be beneficial.
In some situations, a business owner who is divorcing can worry about being financially penalised if the business goes from strength to strength during the period of separation. Alternatively, they might fear criticism if it is less successful at this time. The lawyer must understand this position, and support and advise appropriately.
It is of paramount importance that the business remains intact. Divorce can result in one person having to resign and sell their shares in the business. Previously unforeseen complications can arise with family businesses where arrangements have been ‘by understanding’ rather than formerly in writing.
Ultimately, the client must be confident they can turn to their lawyer with any query, no matter how large or small, and that the lawyer can answer, or tap into a wider circle of expertise to deliver what the client requires.
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Victoria Moreton .