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Can a separated couple work together in business?

Mark h
Community Member

Hello to all of you Beyond Blue community members. I hope you are all safe and well during these troubling times.

I would really like to hear from anyone with an issue I am facing. I suffer from a general anxiety condition as well as depression and now this decision I have to make is causing my anxiety levels to increase dramatically. I have received advice from friends and family but I need this community to also share their thoughts.

My wife and I separated back in January this year and she moved out of home in March. I subsequently found out that she had had at least one affair 10 years ago and after moving out in March ended up finding another man in July who is also very local to where I live. To be honest, her ability to find someone so quickly after 24 years of being married is a big shock and not one that I will recover from quickly. I also knew this man quite well as he the towns local butcher. I have refused to go into town anymore as I don't want to see him or see my ex wife with him at any point.

Things have ended ok. I still talk with my ex wife via texts mainly and also emails but not via phone often and not at all by catching up. It's all too raw right now. We have owned a successful business for 18 years together and whilst I am the sole company director, my ex wife has asked that she stay on in the business and operate this as friends being that we have both had input into its success. That is true of course but I feel that it's the lifestyle and salary that she will be missing as well as of course having to now move into a career probably with another firm in the future which is difficult at age 49.

I have since finding out about this new man listened to myself and cannot find any conceivable way that we can work together. The emotions for me are too high but I also want to do the right thing. Maybe in 3, 6 or 12 months time I will feel differently but it's going to take a lot of time to heal and having her involved is simply going to delay this process I feel.

What I would like to know is whether any of you, the Beyond Blue community have any input to this before I make a final decision? If I did remove her from the company, I would of course make sure she is given a good payout but even after talking briefly about this, it's clear she wants something substantial.I want to be fair but I also don't want to be walked over too. She has agreed to leaving the business but it all depends on the settlement figure.

Any help would be great


6 Replies 6

Community Member

Unfortunately she wants her cake and too eat it too.

Pay her out, cut ties and move forward.

No good will come of this if she's employed there, which I believe you already know.

Hi, welcome

I agree with guest but firstly seek a legal opinion. Your likely in a commanding position and therefore I'd give her what is legally your obligation.


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi there Mark and thanks for reaching out to the forum.

So sorry to hear about events since January this year, on top of the personal issues you also face.

There's no doubt, having run a successful business for 18 years, that you have real ability and resilience . Many many people could not have achieved what you have done!

I have been in a pretty similar situation, and there are four points I'd like to make that may help.

1. The anger, sorrow and hurt you face are waves that will pass over you many times for longer than you think. don't try to hasten this process, just embrace it and let it happen. With me it took at least a couple of years and was helped by my meeting a very lovely person quite by accident, with whom I have a fantastic relationship.

2. Assess as much as you can what contribution she has made to the business success. How much will that be missed if she is no longer involved? Will she be in a position to undermine the business or try and steal your clients?

3. Get legal advice on what her rights are concerning how much money she should be paid on departure (this could be substantial), and what contracts can be put in place for a non compete clause that stops her competing against you for a set period and a set geographical area. Whilst you are the sole Director, she has rights to argue what her contribution has been, and even include home duties that allowed you to run the business. She may also claim a share of future projected profits.

4. Things are very raw at the moment. Your challenge is to stay calm and get professional advice that you can trust. With clients as well, try to keep them removed from your domestic issues and try to prevent anyone taking sides on you vs your wife.

In my case, it was very difficult for a while. I took a financial hit. But in all honesty it was for the better and the business powered on. It was great when a few clients remarked how impressed I was about handling he split professionally as they knew my ex wife pretty well too.

They say we learn from adversity - what's that English statement 'Keep calm and carry on?" It is likely you will look back on this and appreciate what you have learnt from it!

Congratulations again for contacting the forum - I hope you are finding it helpful.

I am very happy to discuss further it you like.

All the best, The Bro

Mark h
Community Member

Thank you so much for getting back to me. That all makes sense and yes I have help from my accountant and also a lawyer who are working on the basis that we split everything 50/50 apart from the business which will need to have some kind of value placed on it so that a share can be passed back to my ex wife.

My ex was involved in the business but I have done 5 days a week whereas realistically she has done 3. I have also done at least 50% of the domestic duties. My ex did the washing of the clothes whilst I cooked. We both split housework equally.

I know she has moved on from our relationship and that she is happy with this new man but for me, I can't physically see her right now or talk on the phone. I know that may sound petty but it's not something I can do without having all of the emotions raised again. We text and email and that's it.

I am sure in the years to come, things will change and I will be able to look back on this and be ok. It's going to take a long time. She is certainly very financially driven right now but it needs to be fair for both parties.

Thankyou so much for all of your feedback. I really appreciate hearing from someone who has been through something similar.


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

That's an awesome response Mark - thank you!

Great to hear you are in the hands professionals, and thinking positively that in years to come, things will change.

Minds are funny things and even today, thoughts about my ex pop up from time to time. But they no longer have any emotional edge to them. This will happen to you over time. Helped very much by knowing things are much better than they would have been had we continued.

By all means stay in touch, happy to chat further.

All the very best. The Bro

Mark h
Community Member

Good morning The Bro

Many thanks for your reply. I am now completely lost not knowing what to do.

I went back to my ex wife and offered her a large sum of money to leave the business along with her car being paid out in full and her salary paid for until settlement took place but she has now come back and asked for 65% of everything along with her car being paid off in full and her expenses paid until settlement. This amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars in her favour and so I now think I need to hand everything over to a lawyer who can take the emotion out of the situation for me and help me make choices to come to some kind of decision. It's amazing how greed comes into these things. I actually can't believe its happening to be honest.

Did you go through a similar experience? It dramatically reduces what I can now put down as a deposit on a house to be honest and so I need to re-evaluate everything moving froward. It's just so sad and my anxiety levels are now through the roof.

Sorry to come back and ask you the questions.