Business Advisory

Family Law and insolvency – not strange bedfellows

B2B Editor1 May 2015

“…In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” So said Benjamin Franklin in his famously quoted phrase regarding a fledgling American Constitution. However, fledgling relationships, be they domestic or commercial, rarely take into account such matters – particularly if by ‘death’ we think in a more expanded way about the ‘end’ of that relationship.

So, just as in commercial disputes, a skilled insolvency specialist can have a positive influence on outcomes for the separating parties in a matrimonial relationship that is at its end.

At the outset it is important to recognise that all parties to such scenarios have their distinct and valuable roles – it would be folly for instance to suggest that the roles of family lawyers could be performed by other less-qualified experts. However, as an additional resource available to separating parties and their representatives, an insolvency specialist skilled in managing and protecting valuable assets can, and often does, play a pivotal role in maximising outcomes.

How? Many times simply by being the independent dispassionate party at the table. In the same way as an advocate for the voice(s) of children may be engaged, so too can the insolvency specialist be an advocate for a company or business that is caught up in the maelstrom. The heightened emotional states of the separating parties many times draws their focus away from issues critical to the maintenance of ongoing trading, profitability and saleability of business assets.

Indeed an independent expert focussed solely on the commercial issues at play often enables the parties to address other concerns, safe in the knowledge that a ‘watching brief’ is in place to protect their relative interests.

Of additional benefit to the parties is that it is possible to engage in these types of strategies without the need for a formal ‘insolvency’ appointment. This reduces cost, publicity and complexity whilst still maintaining, as much as possible, the matrimonial asset pool for the benefit of those in whom it will vest.

As always, one of the many keys to success is realising that there are limitations to what is possible. Identifying issues early, as in any commercial matter, will be of distinct benefit to a separating couple where a business structure is involved. By doing so, the range of options for value preservation is maximised and the ‘death’ as it were, need not take on quite so lifeless a pallor.