The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently upheld a Probate Court ruling in a divorce case involving a family owned business. During their marriage, the husband and wife owned and ran the business together. In their divorce, both the husband and wife sought sole ownership of the business. The judge awarded the business to the husband and, on the husband’s request, entered an order prohibiting the wife from operating a competing business. This is the first occasion in Massachusetts where such an order has been entered in a divorce case. Non-competition agreements have long been the source of litigation and concern for employers and employees. The imposition of a non-competition prohibition in the divorce context will only add to concerns regarding the scope, fairness and enforceability of non-competition provisions. This case also demonstrates the overlap between employment, business and family law issues that often arise when a person who owns a business obtains a divorce. Conversely, this case demonstrates the importance of business owners seeking to protect their business before marrying with prenuptial agreements.
At Doherty, Ciechanowski, Dugan & Cannon we have family law, employment law and business law attorneys who can help you with all of these issues. For more information, please contact one of our attorneys.