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Pennsylvania divorce: How best to divide up a family business

In 2008, a married couple started a vegan ice cream business. It was a hit, attracting a faithful clientele that included the former wife of Paul McCartney. The couple's subsequent divorce in 2012 may offer some insight to Pennsylvania readers about the importance of addressing a family business when property division is being negotiated.

For reasons that are not quite clear, it appears the couple divorced without addressing all of the financial details regarding the ice cream shop. The ex-husband has now gone back to court to seek dissolution of the business. He claims his ex-wife is hoarding the profits and operating the business to the detriment of shareholders, which presumably includes himself.

For her part, the ex-wife asserts that the New York City ice cream shop was her idea. In fact, it is apparently named after her niece, Lula. She says her ex does nothing in the shop other than use company money to pay his personal expenses, including the rent on his apartment. She also claims that he did nothing to help after Hurricane Sandy flooded the store.

As this case heads back to court, Pennsylvania readers are likely wondering why this couple did not address these issues when they obtained their divorce. The couple may have benefited if they chose divorce mediation or collaborated to confront the financial issues directly. Having failed to do so adequately, they are now destined to appear again before a judge to hopefully resolve these problems once and for all. Of course, they still have the opportunity to negotiate a modification of their divorce agreement that settles all outstanding property division issues while also seeking a resolution geared to allow the business to continue to prosper.

Source: New York Post, "Couple's divorce threatens vegan East Village ice-cream shop," Selim Algar, Jan. 28, 2013

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