When business owners divorce collaborative law is often a strategic choice

Most people know divorces are complicated.

When a couple seeking a divorce also happens to own a business, the level of complication can increase greatly. Just as in other divorces, both parties must consider possible outcomes to each decision reached, however, several other factors affect those decisions when assets or property pertains to a business.

For example, there may be others who partially own the business. It also makes a difference if the business was launched during the course of the marriage.

Rather than viewing these additional hurdles as insurmountable, one approach to reaching a favorable outcome for both parties is Collaborative Divorce.

Collaborative Divorce is just as it sounds: collaborative. Settlements are reached in a private, civilized setting, rather than through litigation playing out, stressfully and dramatically, in a courtroom. Attorneys who offer Collaborative Divorce seek training and accreditation in collaborative process and have a goal of helping both parties reach an agreement that is amicable and in support of parties' future plans with respect to the business.

During Collaborative Divorce proceedings, documents are drafted collaboratively between attorneys and clients, discussed with both parties, and reviewed together before being finalized. Other experts may also be brought in, such as financial advisers, to facilitate the procedure and navigate complexities that may arise.

Collaborative Divorce has many, many benefits for couples who are willing to commit to the process. We've been a practitioner of, and champion of, Collaborative Divorce for couples and especially couples who own businesses for more than 30 years.

We have to know and understand the legal nuance of settlements and asset division in divorces where business ownership is involved. Collaborative Divorce offers a potentially far less destructive means of dissolving a marriage especially when there is a jointly owned business in the mix of assets.

Divorce today can be incredibly complex and include real estate transactions, substantial financial portfolios, minor children and much more, we have to understand how the law impacts decisions and outcomes for both parties. And we have to work achieve the division with as little acrimony as possible.

Cooper and Trachtenberg's legal team practices Collaborative Law in addition to offering traditional litigation (which sometimes is the only strategic path to take).

When business owners are seeking a marital divorce, we can make the complex process of divorce simpler and less intimidating.

Choosing Collaborative Divorce is the most logical decision business owners can make when they are faced with an otherwise daunting process and when they are committed to moving through the process together while avoiding a protracted courtroom legal battle.

We guide clients through that process expertly and with compassion.

Business owners choosing to divorce should take a few steps prior to initiating their divorce proceedings.

1. Talk about each other's expectations of the divorce process.

2. Have a clear understanding of all the holdings, including real estate, financial and investment accounts.

3. Give consideration to the overall needs of minor children as they will be placed first in the proceedings. Collaboratively trained attorneys always consider the needs of children ahead of all other aspects of the marriage.

4. Commit to the process and consult with legal resources to find the one that best suits you.

5. Consider mental health and ensure each spouse has sound emotional support resources prior to initiating the process.

Divorce is not easy. It is probably one of the more challenging experiences adults experience in life. But divorce is navigable if with a sound plan and experienced legal counsel.

Collaborative Divorce is absolutely a strategic approach business owners should consider if and when the time comes to dissolve a marriage.

• Miriam Cooper and Helena L. Trachtenberg are Partners of Cooper Trachtenberg Law Group, based in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. They are both trained Collaborative Divorce attorneys and are active in many professional associations that offer continuing education and resources for the practice of Collaborative Divorce Law in Illinois.

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