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How to claim a share of the family business in a divorce

Discussions about finances and family business assets, when emotions are running high, can make divorce an extremely stressful time. Dealing with a family business that you’re not directly involved in, and this can result in even more worry and anxiety.

For the couple reportedly involved in ‘China’s most expensive divorce’, the strain of having to separate all of their joint business interests could well be taking its toll. As stressful as it can be to go through a divorce with a business that’s owned by both you and your spouse, divorcing with a family business that is owned only by your spouse can bring about a feeling of powerlessness and can cause a great deal of worry.

In England and Wales, the family business can be seen as a ‘matrimonial asset’ – this means that it can be taken into account as part of the financial settlement on divorce.

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What do you know about the business?

First of all, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with a specialist solicitor who is used to dealing with divorces where there are businesses involved.

Sit down with your solicitor and list what you know about your spouse’s business. You may not think that you have much knowledge about the business or how it’s run but, at this stage, any information you have will be useful.

Think about:

  • Does anyone else have a stake in the business?
  • Why did your spouse set the business up/become involved in the business?
  • Do you have a lifestyle that is mainly supported through the business?
  • After divorce, would you want to become more involved in the business or would you prefer to cut all ties?

These points will help to build a picture of the business and what kind of financial settlement you would want to end up with.


Maintenance or shares?

If, as part of your financial settlement, you would like to receive an income, this could come in the form of shares from the business or maintenance. It’s worth bearing in mind that if you do decide on maintenance, you will not be able to continue receiving it if you re-marry.


Do you want to own a share of the business?

If you do own a share of the business, you will be entitled to the money that is made from selling the business if this happens at a later date.



The courts may appoint someone to value your business, but speaking to your own accountant and getting them to have a look at the business may be worthwhile – if you are thinking about doing this it’s important to talk to your solicitor first.

Getting a clear understanding of what you want from the family business is important. A good solicitor should be able to talk you through your options and help you to understand what may or may not be possible.

Coming to the meeting with your solicitor prepared with information about the business and what you envisage happening upon divorce, can help you to feel more in control and can put you well on the way to getting your fair share of the family business.

For more information on this subject please visit our Legal Library.


Contact us to see how we can help you with your divorce

For more information on your options call our team on 0845 862 5001 or email

We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in London WC2N 4JF and Manchester M2 4PD. Please contact us for more details.






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19th September 2016

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