For many couples in Ohio, a marriage license is not the only thing that binds them together. They may share children, which presents a lifelong commitment, even if the couple divorces. Some couples also share ownership interests in the same business. That kind of entanglement can make splitting up a marital estate even more complicated and emotional for both parties.

It is somewhat common for spouses to decide to go into business together. They can support one another and share responsibilities both at home and at work. Those benefits are excellent while the marriage is working well, but if the state of the marriage declines, the business may be at risk as well.

In most divorces, a shared business interest will have to end up split between the spouses at some point. If you haven’t considered it yet, there are several ways to handle that intimidating process.

Determine who is more interested in maintaining the business

Ideally, one of the spouses may have an outside career or a new business idea. In other words, that person may be willing to sell their portion of interest in the business to their spouse. The spouse who retains the business will likely need to compensate the other for their interest in the business.

In other cases, they may be willing to dissolve the business and allow the spouse who wants to continue the company to retain the business assets. The spouse who chooses to let go of their interest in the business may receive other assets in compensation for that decision.

It may also be possible for spouses to continue to share an ownership interest, provided that one spouse bows out of running the company. That could be a good situation if it is not easy to divide the assets or restructure the company as part of the divorce process.

If you can’t agree, the courts will have to decide on your behalf

In situations where spouses who co-own a business cannot reach an amicable resolution, the courts will have to determine how to dispose of the business. They could order the division of the business between both spouses, the liquidation of the business or the assignment of ownership interest to only one spouse. They will likely try to divide the business equitably, which is the standard used for all asset division in Ohio.

There are many possibilities, and the courts will look at different factors both from the business and your marriage when determining how to handle it in a divorce. Letting the courts take control of dividing your business may not be the best approach. After all, you won’t have control over who gets what or the future of the business that you worked so hard to build.

When ending a marriage also means major changes to a family-owned business, divorce can quickly become incredibly complicated. You should consider all of your options and think about the future that you hope to secure for yourself and your family through the divorce proceedings.