Mixing Business With Pleasure: What Happens When Co-Owners Divorce?
New U.S. Census data shows mixing business with pleasure is not as uncommon as you might think. Married couples co-own at least 3.7 million small businesses in the U.S., which raises an obvious and important question: is this wise? “Most of the time, when the love dies, the business relationship ends, too,” NPR reported Thursday. “When spouses who happen to be business partners divorce, the drama and emotion of the situation can sometimes put the business at risk,” CNN continues.
There are exceptions to that rule, however. Rhonda Sanderson and her ex-husband, John Amato III, teamed up again — as business partners — years after their divorce. To this day, they maintain a fruitful business relationship. “We actually knew that we were not suited to each other at all in any other way, but the fact is that he has this brilliant marketing mind, and all we ever talked about on dates were business ideas,” Sanderson told NPR.
CNN counsels couples on ways to share similar success. The key to a thriving, co-owned business after divorce, CNN continues, is compartmentalizing. Some ex-spouses “are able to make sharp distinctions between their personal and their professional lives,” according to NPR. Experts also warn against being unrealistic. Honestly consider the promise and/or limitations of an ongoing business relationship, and do not let marital troubles interfere with the business.
If couples cannot practically continue working as business partners, CNN recommends hiring an independent appraiser. An independent appraiser can fairly determine valuation, and help the couple evenly distribute assets.