Can My Husband Compel Me To Sell Our Business?

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My husband and I are currently separated and I am filing for divorce. We have a business that we purchased together. He wants to sell it and I want to keep it. I have single handily ran the business for the 2 years we have had it, it makes no money, it is actually in the red about $10,000 per year. I have offered to take the business and pay off the remainder of the loan we took out to purchase the business, however, he refuses. I asked him to offer an amount that seems fair for the business. He refuses. Can he compel me to sell the business?

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

First, if you do not already have an attorney, you should strongly consider retaining one. Property distribution can easily become very complicated, and it sounds like you and your husband have already started fighting over potentially complicated assets. A family law attorney who is also familiar with small business can help you navigate the best solution for your circumstances or advocate for you in court if that becomes necessary.

With that said, your husband likely cannot force you to sell the business. Several factors play into this, including whether or not you are in a “community property” state, how much personal capital either one of you may have put into the business, and how much work you’ve each individually done for the business. These factors will all affect what percentage of interest you each can claim in the property. Generally, the only interest that your husband can sell is his own interest and not yours. A judge may require that the whole business be sold, but this would require an analysis of all of your marital property.

Again, you seem to have a particularly complicated situation. A family law attorney with small business knowledge will cost a modest sum of money, but will be able to help you navigate this complicated area and advise you as to the most reasonable options. If you are forced to sell your share of the business, such an attorney may be able to advise you on how to repurchase the business outside of the marriage.

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Author: House Attorney