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May 23, 2016BY: Neil Cahn
IN: Is Collaborative for You?, The Collaborative Team

The Small Business Collaborative Divorce

Florida Attorney, Robert J. Merlin, in his South Florida Business Journal column, “Divorce doesn’t necessarily mean the destruction of a family business,” noted that the Collaborative Process could be the best way for married owners of a business to handle their divorce. He pointed out that financial records would be kept private, with interruptions to the business being dramatically reduced. When the couple is focused on resolving issues, rather than causing conflict, and use neutral financial and mental health professionals as needed, the process should be more efficient, avoiding duplicated efforts by each side.

Merlin notes that procedurally, each party to a Collaborative Divorce hires a specially-trained attorney. The parties and professionals meet together to identify issues to be resolved. The Collaborative professionals help the parties resolve those issues by working together as a team of advisors, instead of against each other as combatants. The process is conducted privately, outside of the courts, so that the family’s personal issues are not exposed to the public. The process is financially transparent and confidential so no one, other than the parties and professionals, know anything about the divorce issues or negotiations.

Mr. Merlin was speaking in the context of a family-owned business, where a divorcing couple owned a business together and their mutual interest would be promoted by keeping the business running. Through the Collaborative Process, the relationship between the couple involved in the family-owned business can be preserved allowing them to continue to work together in the business in the future, maintaining equity and keeping the business viable for future generations.

The Process works equally well where it is owned or managed by parent and child, or siblings, where a resolution is needed that preserves both the business and the family relationships.

However, even where there is no family relationship, divorcing business partners need to be able to privately work out an agreement that reflects the interests of all concerned.

The business divorce is nobody else’s business: not customers, not employees, not vendors, not banks, not competitors.

The Collaborative Team understands the need for the gathering of accurate information, privately, without doing more damage, to help the parties consider all options, in and outside the box, to move on.

The court system just isn’t designed for any of that. The Collaborative Process is.

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