Working relationships and divorce

Given that we spend five days a week at work, it’s no surprise that some of us enter into romantic relationships with colleagues. When everything is going well, with the help of rose-tinted spectacles, even the blandest office, grubbiest kitchen and most irritating photocopier doesn’t bother you anymore. The workplace is an exciting place to be, for reasons other than the new stationery delivery or the completion of a lucrative deal. Some even say that in the early stages of a relationship, they feel more productive at work as they are keen to impress their significant other.

So, what happens when the relationship deteriorates and you actually begin to notice the incessant drone of that photocopier again?

Dealing with a relationship breakdown in the privacy of your own home is one thing, but dealing with it in front of all your colleagues and bosses is another thing altogether. For starters, how are you supposed to interact with one another?

There are some great tips and techniques for overcoming the worst. Communication is key and it is very wise to be upfront and lay down some ground-rules at the beginning of your relationship. For example, you could perhaps make an agreement that, in the event that you do break up, you will attend different office social events.

If you have married your colleague and divorce is on the horizon, agreeing not to discuss details of the divorce with any of your colleagues will help. For couples who work together, a pre-nuptial agreement is highly recommended. As for any couple, a pre-nup will set out everything that happens to the couple’s assets upon divorce. Unless it is contested, this makes for a relatively straightforward break-up, providing less fodder for the office gossips. If you are living together but are not married, a similar outcome can be achieved using a cohabitation agreement.

Matters can become more complicated in scenarios where a husband and wife run a business together. Divorce will spark all sorts of disputes: the ownership of the business, how it will continue to operate, the value of the business, each spouse’s contribution to the business, and whether the business will survive the divorce. In the majority of such cases, one spouse will leave the business (although this is not always the case).

If no agreement can be reached, it will be the judge’s decision as to how the situation will be resolved and allow the couple to move forward independently. This could mean a buyout, or even sale of the business. Forward planning in these cases is crucial. Proper consideration to the formation of the business should be given at the outset, and pre-nuptial agreement is highly recommended. As the business evolves over time and people’s priorities change, a pre-nup should be updated to reflect the circumstances of the couple and their desired outcome in the event of marital breakdown.

On a lighter note to conclude this blog, we look at perhaps one of the most high-profile celebrity break-ups of recent times. This couple is known to us all and are famous for their joint enterprise in the world of media entertainment. Kermit and Miss Piggy have announced the end of their romantic relationship. In a statement, Kermit confirms that they will continue to work together and will remain professional through and through. Or at least he will. Miss Piggy posted the following statement on her Facebook page:

“After careful thought, thoughtful consideration and considerable squabbling, Kermit the Frog and moi have made the difficult decision to terminate our romantic relationship. We will continue to work together on television (“The Muppets”/Tuesdays 8pm this fall on ABC) and in all media now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity, throughout the universe. However, our personal lives are now distinct and separate, and we will be seeing other people, pigs, frogs, et al. This is our only comment on this private matter… unless we get the right offer. Thank you for your understanding.”

A great marketing ploy from ABC – one which certainly raises a smile or two!

If you would like to discuss cohabitation agreements, pre-nuptial agreements or divorce, feel free to contact one of our specialist family lawyers on 0161 969 3131. We can also provide employment advice or company commercial advice for joint enterprises.

(Image taken from