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UFB Newsletter Issue #069 Divorce Strategy
July 26, 2007
The Key To Family Business Success
ISSN 15465640

Understanding Family Business brings you articles and tips from Family Business Experts who understand family values and business systems.

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Understanding Family Business

July 26, 2007 Issue #069

Dr. Jane Adams is our Family Business Divorce expert. Dr. Adams is a social psychologist, author of best selling books and a sought after speaker. She has appeared on many of the top TV news and talk shows, including the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do:
Divorce in the Family Business

By Jane Adams, Ph.D.

Divorce has financial ramifications in every family business, and emotional ones in every business family.

While legal strategies, succession and tax planning can minimize the monetary effects on the business of a marital break-up, anticipating its impact on relationships, morale, and even performance in the workplace is an important consideration, too.

When both spouses have been actively engaged in the business, their impending divorce may not come as a surprise to their closest colleagues; if the atmosphere in the office has been tense and the rumors flying, it may even be a relief. But like the children of any divorcing couple, what the staff, employees, and perhaps even the clients and customers want to know is, How will this change things around here? What meaning will this divorce have for me?

No matter how people involved in the business feel personally about the divorce or the parties to it, they need to be assured that their own jobs, contracts or arrangements are secure and the business is sound.

Although sharing the details of the divorce isn’t necessary, or even advisable, letting key staff and employees in on anticipated changes in management or operations is. If you’re realigning responsibilities, divisions or portfolios so that both spouses can continue participating actively in the business, but in different arenas, spell out the details to those who will be affected by them.

It’s hard to go on with “business as usual” during or after a divorce if other family members, employees and even some long-time clients or customers feel pressured to take sides. This is especially true when spouses continue to operate the family business together even after their divorce, as 10% of them do. Such arrangements meet with varying degrees of success, for varying lengths of time; much depends on how and why the marriage ended, and what the business means emotionally to each partner.

If one spouse is leaving, even those staff members and employees who aren’t consciously aware of feeling loss, grief, anger or resentment may express their emotions in other ways – for example, increased absences, decreased productivity, and disturbances in office relationships and loyalties. Without a chance for closure – an opportunity to say a personal as well as professional goodbye to a former boss, friend or colleague - these feelings can linger, fester, and affect performance.

When former spouses continue working in the same field, business or practice, not as partners but on their own or with other associates, the details of who keeps what (including clients and customers as well as other assets) will be spelled out in the dissolution documents, both marital and corporate. All family businesses, like all relationships, are worth not only their value at the present time but the value of their future expected benefits, emotional as well as financial; the more mutual respect, good will and tolerance divorcing spouses show each other, the more those benefits will yield.


It costs you nothing... zip...nada... to ASK THE EXPERT. Most of our site pages have a link to a form that lets you submit your question to one of our experts. We try our hardest to respond within 48 hours.

Our Family Business Blog [Blog is short for "web log"] mini-journal will keep you updated about site changes and other family business matters. Check it out regularly on the site from the NavBar button. Better still, subscribe to the blog using the RSS feed information on any of our pages, such as

Understanding Family Business.

And remember to Take our fr*ee assessment on the 29 Leadership Practices...

Family eBusiness

It's Words That Sell - not Graphics!

One aspect of doing business online that is definitely different has to do with writing.

Why is 'net writing different?


People don't actually read online the same way they do from printed material. Online, the process is much more like scanning or skimming.

This scanning with the eye and searching with search engine tools requires more emphasis on key words.

So, you need to write in a way that helps the viewer scan. And locate keywords.

If you are going to be taking your family business online, it's well worth a bit of time to learn about net writing. The content you will need to produce for your site cannot just be copied into portable document format from your printed brochures and catalogs - it needs to be re-written.

If you have already gone into the online world and are not getting the results that you expected, the problem might be with the writing.

Unfortunately, many web site designers just don't understand this... they are often more focused on the latest wizardry with graphics and pictures. [And they might not be very accomplished at the art of writing, anyway - they might have become computer programmers for the very reason that writing was not a strength.]

So, whether you have not yet started online business, or have not yet been successful, you need to study net writing.

Fortunately, there's an excellent way to check it out - and it costs you no money and only a small amount of time...

Click here to download The Net Writing Masters Course - no cost.

Incidentally, another possible problem area for those of you whose sites are under-achieving is that the site just might not be designed to sell. In order to check it out, here's another resource that costs nothing, but is called the bible of internet selling... use it to evaluate your under-performing site to see where it might not measure up.

Make Your Site Sell - no cost.

Note to those just starting business online - this is an excellent reference and well worth reviewing before you start.

That's it for this issue. If you have any comments, or if there are any topics you'd like to see covered, please let us know.

Comments, requested topics, blog messages...!

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