Business divorce is a term lawyers use when partners and owners of small businesses elect to go their separate ways. This can involve either closing the business and having everyone move on, or having the business continue operations after one or two partners leave. Either scenario raises multiple questions about money, control, taxes, and future liability. For business owners who have put years of effort into growing their business, this process often mirrors the emotional turmoil of an actual divorce.
You need an aggressive lawyer to get through this process. It's also imperative to have someone who understands the realities of your business and will not destroy the value you've built. Frequently, there are disputes over not only who gets what, but also what to do with the assets themselves. Your lawyer needs to understand the big picture, and that only comes from listening to you. Too often, we see other firms approach these cases in a cookie cutter manner simply because that's how they've always done it. That may serve their interests, but it doesn't help yours.
Your goals and needs always guide our process. When we listen to what our clients actually want, and look at the business as a whole, we find that lots of different options can present themselves. Often, clients don't know what's possible, so our conversations help guide them towards finding their own goals. Does everything need to be sold, or do any of the owners want to keep some of the assets for themselves (called a "distribution in kind")? Will the business be continuing on, or will the former owners start new entities from scratch? How will the daily operations be managed while this process takes place? If there are employees, the questions become even more involved when you consider shifting allegiances, payroll, retirement accounts, and confidentiality concerns. We've had cases where the parties came to us with nearly everything mutually agreed to in advance, and others where partners who didn't fight for 25 years all of a sudden couldn't agree on who gets to keep the typewriter.
At Danziger Shapiro & Leavitt, what differentiates us is our ability to remain focused on the big picture. In a multi-million dollar business divorce, we kept our client from getting bogged down in that emotional battle over the typewriter, and got him enough money to buy a few hundred new ones. Your lawyer should be an aggressive, strong advocate for your interests, but his or her ego should not create or expand conflicts that are not necessary. Just like in a marital divorce, if your lawyer doesn't know how to separate the relevant problems from the irrelevant ones, this process is going to take much longer and cost you a lot more money than it should. Our priority is always to protect you and your business interests.Our Clients
A point of pride at our firm is that we are frequently hired by other attorneys and law firms in the region to represent their interests when going through a business divorce. We take it as a vote of confidence that other trial lawyers, who have seen both our work and that of our competitors close up, choose to hire our firm to represent their own interests.
Some of our prior clients include:
- Representing an insider buyout of a multi-generational family manufacturing business
- Representing attorneys in law firm dissolution or separations from their ongoing law firms
- Representing real estate investors in ending their long term investment partnerships
- Representing developers in existing from development projects
- Representing shareholders in an insurance company going through an insider buyout
- Representing a business in litigation to remove a minority partner