Divorced Couples Stay in Business

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Would you run a company with your ex? It turns out many do.

The New York Times reports on the phenomenon, profiling one couple and sharing some advice…

The two met in the late ’80s, in law school, and the relationship blossomed in the early ’90s at the firm —Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith — where Mr. [Agostinho] Ribeiro was essentially the chief executive. They were married in 1998, and soon after, Ms. [Valerie] Calistro took a more active role in running the company’s operations. Together, they built the business into what is now a 50-person operation with an emphasis on civil litigation.

But while the business grew, their home life started falling apart. Mr. Ribeiro and Ms. Calistro divorced in 2006, and suddenly, the former spouses had to make a choice: Do they continue running the business together or should one of them leave? (Ms. Calistro was not an equity partner at the time of the divorce; she is now.)

“People said, including both of our lawyers, that we shouldn’t work together,” Mr. Ribeiro said. “But we talked in an office for two hours and decided we should try to make our business relationship work.”

The article points to a 2007 estimate that 3.7 million businesses are owned by couples, and the high divorce rate, to suggest this is more common than people think.

Stacy Johnson

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