Divorce is rarely a smooth process. Emotions run high, and untangling finances can feel like an insurmountable task. But what if there was a way to approach divorce with a more business-minded perspective, one that could lead to a more amicable resolution?

Enter mergers and acquisitions (M&A) – a concept more commonly associated with corporate transactions, but surprisingly applicable to the realm of family law.

Understanding the Overlap: Businesses as Shared Assets

Many couples own businesses together, either as a joint venture or with one spouse as the primary owner and the other contributing significantly. In a divorce, these businesses become shared assets, subject to division. Traditionally, this could lead to several complications:

  • Selling the Business: If one spouse wants to keep the business running, they might need to buy out the other’s share. This can be financially straining, especially for smaller businesses.
  • Splitting Ownership: Dividing ownership can create management headaches down the line. Disagreements between former spouses can hinder the business’s ability to function effectively.
  • Valuation Challenges: Determining the fair market value of a business can be complex and time-consuming, often requiring expert appraisals.
  • The M&A Approach: Creative Solutions for a Win-Win

M&A principles offer a framework for approaching these challenges constructively.

Here’s how:

  • Negotiation as Deal-Making: Instead of viewing the division of assets as a fight, both parties can approach it as a negotiation. This shift in mindset encourages creative solutions that benefit everyone involved.
  • Considering Alternatives to Selling: Perhaps one spouse can receive other assets, like property or investments, in exchange for relinquishing their claim on the business. This allows the other spouse to retain control and maintain the business’s value.
  • Utilizing Valuation Professionals: Just like in a corporate M&A deal, a qualified business valuation expert can objectively assess the company’s worth. This impartial evaluation prevents disputes and ensures a fair outcome.

Benefits of the M&A Approach

By incorporating M&A principles, divorcing couples can experience several advantages:

  • Reduced Conflict: Focusing on solutions rather than entitlements minimizes hostility and fosters a more collaborative environment. This is especially beneficial if children are involved.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Negotiating a creative solution can be significantly cheaper than drawn-out litigation battles. Legal fees and court costs can be substantial, and the M&A approach helps avoid these unnecessary expenses.
  • Preserving Business Value: Keeping the business intact and operational benefits both spouses. The continued income stream can provide financial security, and employees are spared the disruption of a sale or ownership change.

Conclusion: A Different Path Forward

Divorce is a life-altering event, but it doesn’t have to be a destructive one. By approaching the process with a business-like mindset and utilizing M&A principles, couples can navigate this challenging time with a focus on solutions and shared goals. This paves the way for a more amicable separation, allowing both parties to move forward with a sense of closure and financial stability.

Reece Adnams

Global Managing Principal and CEO

Reece Adnams is the CEO and Global Managing Principal of Eaton Square, a Mergers and Acquisitions and Capital Services advisor for technology, services and other growth companies founded in 2008.

[email protected] 61 03 8199 7911 eatonsq.com