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What happens when your business partner wants to leave?

When you launched your company, you and your business partner were the proverbial "dream team." Your motivations were similar, your energies were aligned and you had a united vision. Now, you and your business partner haven't seen eye-to-eye for a while, and your partner has finally decided that it's time to move on.

What needs to happen next? Here are some tips that can help you:

  1. Look to your partnership agreement. If you had the foresight to address the ending of your relationship at its very beginning, your partnership agreement may spell out the options and obligations of each party. That can provide the framework that will guide you.
  2. Draft a partnership dissolution agreement. This is a document that helps establish an official end date for your business relationship and your duty toward the other party's financial or contractual obligations.
  3. Determine if you will divide the company or if one party will buy out the other. This may already be part of your partnership agreement. If not, you may have to negotiate carefully and involve outside experts to help fairly valuate the business.
  4. Make certain that all titles, registrations and licenses related to the business are properly transferred. These are the kinds of things that often get overlooked -- until months or years down the road when an ex-partner claims ownership over something important or the business can't renew its registration on some important license.

If you and your business partner have maintained a cordial relationship despite your differences, none of this should prove too difficult. If your relationship with your partner has become caustic, it may be time to involve an experienced attorney.

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