We already know that dealing with a divorce or separation can be hard, and if you are a business owner, it can be more difficult. After putting so much time and effort in your business, seeing it falling apart as a result of your divorce can be heartbreaking. The end of your marriage should not mean the end of your business too. 

In this episode, we talk about the difficulties we will face getting a divorce as business owners, and about what we can do to make our business survive our separation. 

Let’s get into it


The first alarm goes on. [00:02:35]

The danger of being vindictive. [00:04:30]

Unnecessary pressure added. [00:06:20]

You might be in front of a turning point. [00:8:40]

I’ve decided to keep my business. Now what? [00:10:40]

We can use the lessons learned during the separation. [00:12:00]

Who should we remunerate or reward? Who indeed helped us? [00:14:20]


My book: The Jelly Bean Jar – Empowering Independence through Divorce


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Hey there and welcome back to the divorce Angel podcast. My name is Tanya Somerton, and for those of you who don’t know me or have just come across the podcast, I’m essentially a divorce strategist. What I like to do on this podcast is to share the information that I come across, not only from my clients but the legal fraternity that I work, my own experience. The financial advisors, accountants, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, whoever it is that we’re working because I do try and provide my clients with a one-stop divorce shop.


I use all of that information and I try and share it on my podcast to help those who are going through, unfortunately, this harrowing time. I’m obsessed with helping people seamlessly pathways is probably the best way to explain it. And what I have learned over the years of doing this is how you tackle it yourself will help you to get a better outcome from your partner. 


I help my clients have that initial conversation with the husband or wife, whoever it is, it’s wanting to instigate the separation and give them some help around how to start the conversation, and what to say so no one is placing blame. Because the truth of the matter is it takes two people to run a marriage.


My clients are not people from arranged marriages or people who have violence in their relationships. I’m not a specialist in that area. I don’t help people that are living in violent situations. Some professionals do great workaround that sort of stuff. I usually work with business owners and executives. 


Today I will have a chat around some of the issues which my small to medium business owners are struggling while going through a divorce. The most alarming thing is if you’ve worked hard to build a business and then all of a sudden, you find yourself in a situation where your relationship isn’t working. And you’ve got a split assets, in a lot of cases, the most valuable thing that you have, and the thing that holds your identity because you’ve worked so hard to build it.

Whether it be successful or just making ends meet, is your business. You have gone to work every day, you’ve built it up, you’ve built relationships with suppliers, with clients, with staff members, even if you have a factory or you have a shopfront or an office, the people that are neighbouring those environments. 


To think that all of that could come crashing down can be heartbreaking. It just adds to the sorrow and the height that you’re feeling from the breakdown of your relationship. I would previously say that it was much mostly men that had this issue, but I’m finding more and more often amazing women out there doing some really good home business, they’re making some really good coin.

I’d forewarn you if you are a business owner on some of the things that I see happening in people’s businesses when they do not stay on track. 


That can be when they take their eye off the ball, or it can be when they get vindictive, and they think, well, I’m going to get back at them. These can be two different ways, it could be I want the business to be worthless. So when it is time of the asset division, the business isn’t worth much, so therefore they’re not going to get much. The thing with that is you’re cutting your nose off to spite your face. Running your business into the ground so your partner can’t get anything from that doesn’t make any sense. 


Because to do that, you’re losing momentum. You’re not able to get up and rebuild from the place where you left off. That doesn’t make any sense, better of to continue to grow your business or keep it with the same level of income and productivity. 

The back of my mind seats, a story about a financial advisor. His wife had decided that she no longer wanted to be in the marriage. Now, this guy had a very lucrative business. He had 13 staff, he had a very good reputation in the industry. And what happened was, he was so distraught by what had happened in his relationship that he lost the plot. Business staff started to leave because they weren’t getting the proper direction. They had no idea what the future was going to look like for them. They didn’t know whether he had the right frame of mind to run the business. Some of them had been long term staff members. 


That pressure just added to him the pressure of not having responsible staff to continue looking after his business when he needed it.

It was another added burden and it compounded how he was feeling. He was losing clients as well. It’s such a sad thing to watch. And I know of someone else that decided that he didn’t care if his business went bankrupt. 

He did not care as long as his ex-wife got nothing from the family business. It doesn’t make sense to me. Is that the sort of person that you want to be when you’re separating?

You need to look in the mirror because if that is the sort of person that you were in your marriage, maybe that is why the marriage didn’t work. 


How people behave when things are at their worst is how they are. 

So if you are a business owner, and you are currently going through a separation, it’s important to make sure that you have some staff that can take over from you if you do need some time by yourself. To understand what it is that you want from your future. Everyone has the right to have some time off. 


When you’re a business owner, you think that without you the business will not be sustainable or will not run. And that’s a flawed way to run a business because it must have contingencies, it must have a Plan B and a Plan C. 

And this could be the opportune time to start putting some of those things in place if you are a business owner and make sure that you do have someone you can rely on if something goes wrong. So doesn’t need to be all bad. 


This could be the turning point of addressing some of them. Maybe the things that aren’t working right in your business, or giving someone else more of a management role, someone that you can trust. Someone that can stand up and help you out while you’re going through this. 

Sales are the oxygen to any business. So making sure that the customers are protected and cared, and that someone can provide answers to your staff, so you are not required constantly. 

Even if it means that for a few weeks or a few months, that rather than working full time you’re only working two or three days a week, and you take some time off just to get your head around what’s going on. What I say is people become even more engrossed in their business because it is all that they’ve got. 


They want to be sure that they’re turning up to work and are putting as much as they possibly can. But then when the fight comes around the value of the business, they get quite upset when they have to put a value on that and divide it with this spouse.  

A tool that we use and something that I do with my clients when we’re doing a strategy, we work out what it is that a client wants from the relationship. And if you’re a business owner, is this possibly another asset like a family home, it could be an investment property or something else. 

So, if I’m going to keep the business, and the business is the most important thing to me, then I need to be prepared to give up something else in turn. 


That’s where a strategy comes down to making sure that you get what is best for you. If your business is not making money, or if you’ve been working so hard for so many years, and you’ve got nothing to show for it. If you’ve got no profits in the bank, now might be the time to consider your future and ask yourself, is this worth continuing with? Or this is a turning point in your life where you can maybe fold the business up? 

When you were a couple, it didn’t work for a long time. 


Businesses can be the pressure that is put on a family, but the financial stress and strain that goes on a family when a business isn’t making money can also cause your relationships to break down. So this could be the time that you look at your business and ask yourself, can I make it sustainable? Can I make it profitable? 

Or is this not only a turning point in your relationship but in your life where you address what your career might be? And it doesn’t need to be sad. It can be rewarding. 

You will have learned lessons along the way that you could take into something else, you might be able to bring in a partner to take over your side of the business, or you might already have a partner and it might be time to sell out.

When you’re going through a separation, it can be a good time to restart, reset and change the rules to what you thought your life was going to be. 


So the steps moving forward, if you are a business owner is having evaluation on your business, and understanding what is worth the market value of your business. You need to make sure that the debts associated with the business also taken into consideration, vehicles and other assets, all of those things need to be taken into consideration, and working out whether it is viable to continue operating. 

Now, if you have a money-making machine, congratulations, I imagine you’ve worked hard to get the business to that stage. I you do have a money-making machine as a business, you want to make sure that you can keep it. I’ve had clients that have kept lucrative businesses, and they’ve set up different trust structures to be able to continue to operate those businesses independently. In which every person had a different role.


And they answered to someone, so there’s sort of three people in there. 

Don’t stop and think that you are being cornered, that there’s nowhere to go, that you are stuck and you’ve either going to sell your business, or you’ve got a folded up, or you’ve got to pay a spouse a fortune. There are ways and means around it. And if you’re clever, you can come up with options. A business can be like a baby for some people. I know mine certainly is for me, now that my children have got older, my business is everything for me. 


I understand what it’s like to have a business that becomes your identity, and you’ve put your love, your sweat and tears into it and you don’t want to give it away. This is hard for people to hear, but if you’ve built a business, and you’ve had a partner that has supported you, that has allowed you not be at home to work long hours, whatever your partner has done to support you, they need to be remunerated, or rewarded for that support they have given. 

Some people will say no, they’ve done nothing. Well, indirectly they have supported, whether it be the household, whether it was before the business made money that helped with cash flow, or they helped by going to work and keeping things going into the business built up. There’s always something that someone has done to assist. 


And the easiest way to get over this is being prepared to do what is fair and reasonable. I’m a big believer in karma. Karma can be a bitch and it will come back and bite you in the bum. 

Be honest and fair about it. Give your ex-partner what they are entitled to receive. And make sure that you do once it’s over. 

Get serious about rebuilding your business. You get serious about making better money putting processes in place and commit to your business. Because you’re not committing to your ex-partner anymore. 


The idea of a good strategy is having the foundations to be able to build a sustainable future. It’s not about taking something that you do not deserve. It’s about having a trampoline, a jumpstart.

You’re getting the right assets out of your relationship to be able to build a sustainable future. 

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