Business divorces are common. You and your partner had a million-dollar idea, the entrepreneurial fire engulfed you, and you eloped to the business wedding chapel hoping the love would last. Now, your partner thinks he’s the next Bill Gates and you’re the one holding him back (he’ll later accuse your attorney of worse, as well as any other attorney that doesn’t tell him what he wants to hear, but we’ll save that for another day).
Of course, had the partners been proactive, legally speaking, by creating a partnership agreement (think of a partnership agreement as a prenuptial agreement for businesses) ahead of time, you’d be breathing a lot easier these days.
Nevertheless, if you find yourself in this situation, remain calm. You have rights, and your ownership interest is generally protected. Don’t allow your business partner to fill your head with nonsense. However, he or she has rights, too, so you need to speak with a business attorney as soon as possible. Your business lawyer will quickly review the specific facts and applicable laws and help you understand your options. Your attorney will also help you work through critical questions such as:
- What happens to the office space?
- Who owns the customer list?
- Did your partner commit a breach of contract?
- Are the assets in the business going to be split equally?
- Are the costs of dissolving the business going to be equally divided?
- What will happen to your employees?
- If you and your partner are going to continue in the same line of work, do you need a non-compete agreement?
- Will you need to hire someone to replace your partner?
- Who owns the intellectual property?
- Can I continue to run my business or will I be forced to shut it down? (Click here for more on the subject.)
As you can see, there’s a great deal of minutia to sort through. It’s important that you approach this challenge armed with the right attorney – one that is ready to engage in business litigation if necessary, but has the business acumen to suggest alternative legal measures first. If you or someone you care about wants to discuss ways to be legally proactive, or if it’s too late and troubled waters lie ahead, give us a call today. Miami business lawyer Brett Trembly would love to help.