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In a dispute with your business partner? Here are your options

People go into business together with the best of intentions.

You and your partner probably got along great as you talked about the future success of your business and worked together to make that dream a reality. But the honeymoon doesn't last forever, and many business partners end up on the rocks months or years down the road.

Sometimes, it's a major disagreement that puts a rift between business partners. Other times, business partners change over time and no longer hold the same goals or values. In some instances, one business partner violates the trust of the other partner, or maybe even violates the law.

If you have found yourself in any of these situations, then you are probably wondering what options you have and whether your business interests can be saved.

Generally speaking, you have four options when your business partnership is no longer working:

Sell your share of the business or buy-out your partner's share.

This would involve one of you keeping the business while the other one moves on.

Legally dissolve the business.

This would involve tying up all loose ends and shutting down the business according to state law.

Change the ownership percentages.

This would involve reestablishing each partner's share, role and authority in the business.

Ask the court to intervene.

This would be necessary when the business' governing documents do not provide the protocol to take and your and your partner cannot reach an agreement on your own.

Taking the first step

The first step you take should be meeting with a business lawyer who can review your business' governing documents such as a partnership agreement.

If you do not have a written operating agreement in place, a lawyer can still go over your options, which may be more flexible but also more complex, than if you had an enforceable agreement in place.

In any case, it's important to get an attorney involved in order to make sure that the situation is handled appropriately. Failing to do so could result in you losing a significant amount of money, time and, potentially, your business.

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Tekell & Atkins, L.L.P.
5400 Bosque Boulevard
Waco, TX 76710

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