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Knoxville Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Divorce > When the Family Business Falls Apart When the Marriage Does

When the Family Business Falls Apart When the Marriage Does


Running a business with your spouse can be beautiful, but it can also be an enormous source of stress.  You don’t have to worry that your spouse has a “work spouse” who understands their career ambitions better than you do, because you are both the work spouse and the home spouse.  You share the successes and disappointments.  On the other hand, if your spouse decides they don’t want to be married to you, or if they betray your trust such as by having an extramarital affair, you can find your professional life and your personal life falling apart at the same time.  Even worse, disputes over how to divide a business which is marital property can be especially acrimonious.  If you and your spouse built a family business together and are now getting divorced, contact a Tennessee divorce attorney.

If Your Marriage and Your Career Are Inextricably Linked, What Happens When You Divorce?

Mark and Michele were married from 1984 until 2010; when their divorce case began, both parties were 46 years old, and both of their children had reached adulthood.  In the early part of their marriage, Mark was attending dental school, and Michele’s work was their main source of income.  After he graduated from dental school, he opened a dentistry clinic, and Michele was its office manager.  By the time the parties separated, the clinic had more than 40 employees and was valued at more than $8,000,000.  In 1990, Mark was diagnosed with a tremor, and it got worse as time went on.  By the end of the parties’ marriage, Mark’s income derived mostly from his ownership role in the business; he was unable to perform dental procedures the way he had earlier, and he relied on other dentists employed at the clinic to perform them.

The parties had an acrimonious divorce; their case involved ten witnesses, nine depositions, and more than 90 exhibits.  An issue during their case was that Mark stopped paying Michele her salary while the case was pending.  The court ordered him to pay her pendente lite alimony instead, and when he did not, it held him in contempt.  When the divorce became final, the court determined that Michele could find another job as a manager at a dental clinic, but that her earning capacity would be much less than Mark’s, so it ordered him to pay her alimony every month until she reached age 66.

Inappropriate Marital Conduct: A Double Standard

In the divorce complaint, Mark accused Michele of inappropriate marital conduct.  During the trial, Michele admitted that she once shared a kiss with a male friend shortly before she and Mark separated.  Meanwhile, Mark had 26 extramarital relationships during the parties’ marriage.  His partners included employees, family friends, and sex workers.  His accountant testified to how much money Mark spent on girlfriends and sex workers.  Talk about a double standard!

An Attorney Can Help You Today

When moving on from your marriage also means rebuilding your career, a Knoxville divorce lawyer can help.  Contact Patrick L. Looper for a consultation on your case.



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