Law Practice Management

Once Lawyers in Love, Divorced Couple Continues to Run Connecticut Law Firm

When spouses running a small business get a divorce, they don’t necessarily have to part ways on the job.

Agostinho Ribeiro and Valerie Calistro, partners at a law firm in Danbury, Conn., are proof the business relationship can continue, the New York Times reports. Despite their divorce, they decided to work things out at Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith. “We created the business,” Ribeiro told the Times, “we created the structure, and we had a team that counted on us.”

Calistro and Ribeiro met in law school and worked together at the law firm. When they married in 1998, Ribeiro was managing the firm. Calistro then began to take on an increasing role in law firm operations, the story says.

After the 2006 divorce, Calistro was worried she would lose her position at the firm, so she asked Ribeiro to sign an agreement allowing her to stay for three years. She is still there, and she has been promoted to an equity partner.

Consultant Ivan Lansberg has advice for divorcing spouses hoping to continue running a small business. He tells the Times they will need respect, communication, predictability (by doing what they say they will do), consistency (by always following through) and compassion for each other.

Also important is a shareholder’s agreement between the exes that details what will happen if one of them leaves the business. And in some cases, a professional therapist can aid communication.

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