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Options for dividing a business in a divorce

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2020 | Firm News |

Illinois business owners who are going through a divorce have several different options if the business is part of the marital property. Usually, one spouse transfers ownership to the other since it can be difficult for couples to continue working together after a divorce. Even if one person is largely hands-off and simply has some ownership, there is still the potential for conflict.

The person giving up a portion of the business should be indemnified from any claims relating to it. However, this simple transfer of ownership is not always possible since one spouse may lack the money to buy out the other. The solution could be to have one spouse continue running the company while the other has ownership with an option for the former to buy out the latter at a specified future point. The couple would also agree on the future point at which the business would be valued. Other conditions may be put into place as well, such as allowing the non-operating person some veto power.


There are situations in which both individuals may want to keep ownership of the company, either because they enjoy running it, because they are getting a good income from it or because they anticipate it will be valuable in the future. These individuals may need a buy-sell agreement.

Another option could be for the couple to sell the business and split the proceeds, but this will still involve determining who will run it until it sells. Other types of assets may complicate the process of property division in a divorce as well, including dividing a home. For example, even if they agree to sell it, it could take some time to sell the home or it might need renovation. The couple might then need to decide how to split expenses associated with it before it sells.