November 7, 2018

Divorcing your business-partner spouse

Partners in a business never want a dispute to have to be resolved through litigation. It is expensive for both sides, it can be long and it can be emotionally draining. But what if the partner that you are splitting ways from used to be your spouse? What if there are angry, bitter feelings that are keeping both sides from wanting to step down?

This appears to be the case in a messy dispute between fashion designer Tory Burch and her ex-husband. Reportedly, the couple married in 1997 and a few years later Tory decided that she wanted to try launching a fashion line. The couple went to work and after launching in 2004, the designer was invited on Oprah. The business took off and the marriage fell apart. The former spouses and business partners each remained on the board post-split, but after the divorce things became complicated.

Tory’s ex-husband’s new girlfriend started a line that allegedly looks strikingly similar to Tory’s designs after Tory’s ex-husband was asked to step down from the board earlier this year. The former spouses and business partners have been engaging in a heated battle involving lawsuits, counter lawsuits and a court battle that the judge presiding over the case called a “drunken WASP fest.”

Unfortunately, this dispute is ultimately hampering both sides and not making the business more profitable. However, the still-thriving brand has over 77 stores around the globe and projected annual revenues of $800 million, so it is hoped that this dispute can be resolved.

There are a lot of business issues at play in this case. Between the litigation, the partnership disputes, the potential infringing of Tory Burch designs all mixed in with a messy divorce, this case is enough to make anyone’s head spin.

Unfortunately, even the best of marriages can meet the worst of ends, and in some instances it is critical to retain not only an experienced family law attorney but an experience business law attorney as well.