In light of Philadelphia Eagles owner, Jeffrey Lurie's recent announcement that he and his wife, Christina, are getting a divorce, but wish to remain friends and business partners after the divorce, I thought it would be a good time to ask the question:
Is it possible for spouses to divorce but continue successfully as business partners?
In my experience, the answer is yes, although it takes a tremendous amount of flexibility, trust and cooperation between spouses to make it happen. To be sure, the marriage has to end well and on amicable terms for the arrangement to work successfully. This means that any other sticking points in their divorce settlement, outside of their business arrangement, have to first be fully resolved to their mutual satisfaction. They cannot carry over any rancor or bitterness from the divorce into their post-divorce business relationship.
Assuming these circumstances are present, I have seen many spouses who were running a business together during a marriage, and then decide to divorce, enjoy an even happier, friendlier and more productive relationship, both personally and professionally. They are truly business partners, but without the stress and tension they experienced while they were married. This allows them to focus more on the success of the business without the distractions that were once there.
Couples who have successfully made this work have approached it with the mindset that they built the business together with their own sweat equity and want to see it flourish, and if it does, they both stand to benefit financially--a win-win for everyone. It can also be a way of further honoring their hard work together during their marriage.
Still there are many skeptics, mostly private divorce attorneys, who have already commented that Jeffrey and Christina's proposed arrangement can never work. I do not agree at all. They are both highly intelligent and open-minded individuals who appear to still care for one another. If any couple can do it, they can. In fact, they appear to make great candidates for divorce mediation without any involvement of the court.
Many might say that they should just split the business now through a buyout of Christina from it. What they may not know is that Chrstina has been a very integral component to the franchise. She has been the driving force for the Eagles' involvement with important causes such as breast cancer, the Eagles Youth Partnership and environmental awareness through her Go Green campaign. She was also instrumental in the creation and design of Lincoln Financial Field, the team's state-of-the-art stadium complex, and its training facilities. To buy her out of the franchise now would be a big loss to the franchise and most certainly hurt its value in the future.
Of course there is a practical, business side to all this that must be considered, even if the couple has the best intentions of making the arrangement work. A business partnership agreement will be needed to address all their legal rights and interests and future options regarding their co-ownership of the business.
Meet with a divorce coach to start preparing for divorce.