Dealing with businesses in divorce

Successful handling of businesses on divorce means damage and disruption is avoided. No matter how complex your business affairs are, our divorce solicitors will provide the solutions that you need.

A business owner facing a divorce will quite rightly be worried about how their personal affairs will impact on the running and performance of their business, as well as ultimately whether they will still have a business at the conclusion of any court proceedings. The court has the power to order a shareholder to sell or transfer their shareholding or interest in a business making it vital to take early legal advice to ensure the right decisions are made.  

Our lawyers

We lead the way when it comes to our experience in dealing with businesses on divorce. Our lawyers have experience in acting for business owners and their families. Our divorce lawyers provide resolution focused and tailored legal advice daily to business owners who are going through a divorce, or taking steps to protect their business in that eventuality.  From small, owner managed businesses to large scale companies, we draw on our unrivalled experience to give clear advice from the start.

We know that each business is different, so we take time to understand the commercial realities from the start. With an unrivalled multi-disciplinary approach, a network of global contacts, experts in resolving disputes away from the courts and a wealth of practical experience, you can be confident in our ability to offer business legal advice, whatever your interests. 

We have:

  • Acted on behalf of the beneficiaries of various offshore trusts that owned companies and investments worth in excess of £200 million in High Court litigation that was successfully resolved in our clients’ favour
  • Successfully negotiated a post-nuptial agreement for a separated couple to cover their business assets in advance of private equity investment
  • Mediated an agreement between a business owner couple with UK and US companies and with assets in excess of £10 million
  • Advised a business client’s spouse with assets in excess of £100 million, the majority of which was value within a privately owned company
  • Regularly supported business owners in negotiating and implementing company purchase of own shares from spouses to maximise tax and liquidity opportunities on divorce

What you need to know

On a divorce, business assets will need to be considered and divided between the parties just like other assets of the marriage. Although the court has the power to order a sale or transfer of a business owner’s shareholding or other business assets owned by them personally, it will only likely do so as a last resort. Ordinarily, the value of business assets is ‘offset’ against other matrimonial assets or time is given to raise required funds to do so.

Steps can be taken by business owners before and after marriage to protect assets from divorce.

The courts in England & Wales have jurisdiction to make an order against a foreign business.

In the majority of cases a formal valuation of your business will be needed. A single joint expert (SJE) will be instructed to act for both parties. A business will normally be valued on either a net asset basis or on its future income stream. An SJE may also be asked to advise on the sustainable future income of the business owner, tax related to both income and extraction of capital, and any liquidity within the business (eg, surplus cash) to fund a financial settlement on divorce.

Commercial property owned by a company pension scheme (eg, a small self-administered scheme (SSAS)) can be divided between spouses by way of a pension share.

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Main contacts

  • Andrew Moore

    Principal Associate

    Andrew Moore

    Principal Associate

    • +(44)(03443 276223
    • Contact Andrew

      Contact Andrew Moore

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    • Manchester
    • +(44)(03443 276250
    • Contact Katherine

      Contact Katherine Kennedy

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      Mills & Reeve will use the information you provide in this form in accordance with our privacy policy. We may from time to time send you general updates by email or post that we think you will find of interest. This includes notification of upcoming event and updates or alerts containing relevant legal news. You can update your preferences at any time and will be able to easily unsubscribe from anything that you do not wish to receive.

      Thank you

      Thank you for your enquiry. We will be in touch shortly.

    • Birmingham
  • Frances Bailey

    Principal Associate

    Frances Bailey

    Principal Associate

    • +(44)(03443 276240
    • Contact Frances

      Contact Frances Bailey

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      Mills & Reeve will use the information you provide in this form in accordance with our privacy policy. We may from time to time send you general updates by email or post that we think you will find of interest. This includes notification of upcoming event and updates or alerts containing relevant legal news. You can update your preferences at any time and will be able to easily unsubscribe from anything that you do not wish to receive.

      Thank you

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    • Norwich

Frequently Asked Questions

More

None of your business – judicial approaches to pre-marital business assets

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Watch this useful exploration of financial settlements involving the family business, recorded as a webinar by our family lawyers in June 2022.

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Did you know?

Leading the way

Divorce.co.uk – our free legal advice website – was the first of its kind when we introduced it 20 years ago and it's still going strong! 

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Award winning

Nigel Shepherd received Family Law's Cornwell Award for Outstanding Achievement for his three decade campaign to introduce no fault divorce.

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Teamworking

We regularly work with accountants, land agents, tax advisers and other professionals to provide joined-up, practical advice.

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