FAQs Saving the Family Business

What legal options do I have for saving our family business?

In marriage and common-law relationships, the value of your business may be appraised and divided on separation, where the parties cannot agree on terms of division. In exceptional circumstances, the court will appoint a business administrator to handle the business, or shares will be given to the spouse who does not have legal title to the business and who is owed a payment. This can have a significant impact on your business’ reputation as you will not be in complete control of your business.

To avoid assigning control of your business to an administrator, domestic agreement(s) or a shareholder agreement can go a long way in shaping how your business will be managed in the event of a marital breakdown. When your relationship breaks down, the following legal options may be available for protecting your family business:

  • Kitchen table negotiation – spouse to spouse negotiations in which spouses can agree to their own terms without the use of lawyers;
  • Collaborative practice – multilateral negotiations in which each spouse retains a collaboratively trained lawyer to enter into no-court discussions with the help of other professionals as needed;
  • Mediation/Arbitration – out of court negotiations in which the parties meet with either a mediator or arbitrator to reach terms of separation, with or without a lawyer present;
  • Traditional 4-way negotiation – parties and their lawyers engage in 4-way discussions in an effort to reach agreement on terms of separation, failing which one party may initiate a court proceeding; or
  • Litigation – either party may initiate divorce proceedings at court, triggering the court process and requiring parties to make court filings on public record.

 

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About the author

Russell Alexander

Russell Alexander is the founder of Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers and is the firm’s senior partner. At Russell Alexander, our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues, including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. We have locations in Toronto, Markham, Whitby (Brooklin), Lindsay, and Peterborough.

For more information, visit our website, or you can call us at: 905-655-6335.