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Your grandmother would have turned in her grave if she was watching. The successful family business she built, with the hope of sustaining her family for years to come, is now tearing her family apart. 

Any business partnership can have its problems; two people do not always see eye to eye. However, mixing family and business can make it even worse.

Let’s say you and your sister have a 50:50 share in the family business — what happens when you don’t agree? When you argued were kids, you ran to your parents. They acted as the impartial third party to help you resolve your conflicts, such as whose turn it was to choose the TV channel or sit in the front of the car.

One of the problems with a family business partnership is that business can become personal. Step back and think if there is something deeper at the root of your disagreement. Are you really arguing about closing that unprofitable store? Or are you still arguing about the time your sister’s dog killed your pet rabbit, thirty years ago?  

Sometimes, even as adults, you need an impartial third party to consult when you and your business partner cannot agree on something. It could be a trusted family friend; it could be a board of investors.

If you cannot resolve your partnership dispute, even with the aid of someone you know, you may want to seek legal counsel. Mediation is the first step: an experienced and independent mediator will try to find a satisfactory solution for both parties. If that fails, you may need to get a judge involved, known as arbitration. Either of these is preferable to litigation, which can prove costly for both sides, not to mention fatal for your family relationship.