Exes making it work for business’ sake

When a couple who runs a family business together decides that they are better off apart, not only do they have to worry about getting a divorce, they also have to answer the difficult question of what to do with their business.

Both parties have invested a lot of time, money, and energy into growing the business, and neither wants to give it up. However, many couples simply cannot fathom working together on a regular basis after their personal relationship has ended. In this case, one partner buys the other out, or they sell the business together and divide the profits.

There is a third option; both partners can continue to work together, and while it is not an easy thing to do, it isn’t impossible. These partners are proof that exes can make it work for the business’ sake.

Agostinho Ribeiro (CEO) & Valerie Calistro (Managing Partner)

Married: 1998

Divorced: 2006

Business: Ventura Law (law firm)

“When Mr. Ribeiro and Ms. Calistro divorced, she was worried that she might lose her job. She asked her ex-husband to sign an agreement saying she could stay in the business for three years. ‘I needed to know that I could continue working here and earn an income,’ she said. That security calmed her nerves and gave them time to find a way to work together.”

Both are still working together today, and the firm is in good shape. Ms. Calistro said it took about two years before things felt truly normal, but they are both happy with their decision.

Tarek & Christina El Moussa (Television Personalities/Real Estate Agents)

Married: 2010

Separated: 2017

Business: Flip or Flop (television series)

The famous television duo has been flipping homes for quite some time, and because they both enjoy their job, they have made a commitment to continuing their show.

“Tarek and I met through work,” sais Christina, “so we worked together before we even started dating — it’s our normal,” Christina shared. “We also run a seminar together, and every five weeks we go to Vegas together. We’re onstage and we have a great time. We’ll always be working together.”

Stan & Pam Strickland (Founders and Owners)

Married: N/A

Divorced: 1991

Business: River Street Sweets~Savannah’s Candy Kitchen (candy stores)

Stan and Pam worked together until 1991. Then, they became direct competitors. The grew their independent businesses for almost twenty years, but thanks to ecommerce, the demand for their sugary products grew. They decided that they would both be better off if they combined their businesses.

“We were competitors for so long that it seemed like it would be hard,” said Stan. “We put the business aside to get the family part worked out.” They did work everything out, and today, the couple and their children run 17 stores, and bring in revenues of about $35 million.

Staying in business with an ex will not work for everyone, but couples that are successful are still able to trust each other, they still respect each other, they can clearly communicate their roles and responsibilities within the business. Most importantly, they have established clear boundaries.

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