If you and your spouse own a family business, it likely has financially served you well over the course of your marriage. Now that you face a divorce, however, that same business could pose a major problem in terms of your property settlement agreement. Florida law requires that you and your spouse divide your marital property between you fairly and equitably when you divorce. But how do you do that with regard to your business?

Per Forbes, you have three options as follows:

  1. Sale
  2. Buyout
  3. Continued joint ownership
    1. Sale

If you and your spouse both view your impending divorce as an opportunity to make a completely fresh start, selling your business likely will give both of you sufficient money to pursue new business interests. Sales often take substantial time, however. In addition, you likely will need to hire a professional business appraiser to calculate not only your business’s value, but also the value of your respective interests in it and a reasonable selling price.

  1. Buyout

If one of you desires to continue operating the business, but the other is content to walk away, a buyout likely represents your best option. Here the staying spouse gives other nonbusiness marital assets to the leaving spouse that offsets the value of his or her business share. Alternatively, the staying spouse can obtain a new business partner and/or a business loan, either of which gives him or her sufficient funds to buy out the leaving spouse’s share, possibly over time and with interest.

  1. Continued joint ownership

Your third option, that of continued post-divorce ownership, requires great maturity on the part of both of you. If the two of you work well together, however, you can successfully continue to own and operate your business together after your divorce. Experts nevertheless recommend that, should you choose this option, you have an attorney draft a partnership agreement that specifically sets out your respective ownership interests, duties and how you will handle a buyout in the future if your joint ownership experiment fails to succeed.