Q. I have decided to separate from my partner after about 4 years together. We're both in our 40s and we each came into the relationship with a house and some investments. I have a small consultancy business, with 6 staff.

My partner worked with us for a few months on an IT project but is not a staff member; she has her own successful career. However, she's determined to take half my share of the business when we split. This is totally out of left field – her work did not increase the value of the business at all, and while we did talk about the business a bit, she has had nothing to do with the actual running of it.

I don't even think she believes this is fair, she is just bitter with me. During the good months, I was very generous with the money from the business. What happens now?

A. Who owns your business?

Generally, when a couple separates, their relationship property is divided equally. This includes assets like the family home, family chattels and investments. A business set up or acquired during the relationship is normally relationship property too.

However, if a business is already established before the relationship, it's possible it can be classed as "separate property", which means one partner alone has legal entitlement to that property. This will depend on whether the business has been "intermingled" with the relationship.


Intermingling occurs when there is not a clear boundary between business matters and relationship


Has intermingling occurred?

When your business is part of your relationship property