Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, November 7, 2005

Working Together (literally) After the Divorce

"Just as former partners have been more willing in recent years to remain friends so they can co-parent their children, more spouses-cum-colleagues are now willing to remain friends so they can stay at the company together. Good divorces are "growing by leaps and bounds," says family attorney Lee S. Rosen of Rosen Law Firm in Raleigh, N.C. Boomers and Gen Xers want none of the ugliness of their parents' War of the Roses-style splits. The shifting career climate -- in which the threat of a layoff has increased 49% since the 1970s, while the chance of losing health insurance has soared 150% -- is also making many more leery about starting a new business or switching companies or careers. Not to mention the fear and loathing that globalization is wreaking among the educated elite. Couple that with the gruesome expense of divorce -- and a deeper awareness of its poisonous emotional legacy, especially on children -- and it makes sense that many partners and co-workers, well versed in office politics, are attempting to finesse a "get along" breakup. . . .

Today there are more than 1.2 million husband-and-wife teams running companies together, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. And a quarter of family businesses experience a divorce. Across the corporate landscape, one study found that 10% of couples who divorce continue working together. That's not surprising given the frequency of workplace romances, with nearly 60% of workers admitting to having had an office relationship, up from 46% two years ago. Babette Chandrasoma, a human resources manager in Austin, Tex., of Eden Prairie (Minn.)-based hearing-aid manufacturer Starkey, met both her current and former husbands at work. In fact, her ex works in a cubicle 20 feet away. "We went through a phase where he would get a letter from a lawyer and would want to talk about things at work," says Chandrasoma, who shares custody of her 11-year-old daughter with him. "We had to make a deal that we wouldn't talk about our personal business at the office."" By BusinessWeek online Link to Article )last visited 11-06-05 NVS)

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