Q&A - Can I divorce now and retain my interests in our business until a future date?

Q: I want to divorce my husband, move away and start a new life. The problem is that I am a partner in our business. Although I ceased to have an active role when I had our children I helped set the business up and worked hard in it for many years beforehand. Because of this I obviously want my share of the business assets, but I am concerned that taking them in the current financial climate will do neither the business, nor either of us, any favours. Is there a way I can go ahead with the divorce and still protect my interests in the business if I leave that side of things as they are for the time being?

A:  A lot of family businesses across the UK are facing this kind of dilemma at the moment, whereby taking out a large amount of cash in one swoop could impact so catastrophically on cash flow that it would make the business insolvent.

If the business is going to continue you could make provision for your share of it (your capital account and current account) to be paid to you on an instalment basis, but the liquidity of the business is crucial. You should get a valuation of the business, but bear in mind it is more difficult to value a partnership business or shares in a private limited company than to value shares in a plc which is quoted.

As the Courts will now not hear divorce cases until they have first been assessed for the suitability of Mediation, this may be of benefit to you. The Mediation process could help you and your husband to reach a mutually acceptable solution and hopefully maximise your share of the partnership business.