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Recently my father has been uncovered in an extra marital affair with another woman. The family business is now a huge question mark...

Recently my father has been uncovered in an extra marital affair with another woman. The family business is now a huge question mark with my older brother in line for succession. A few other children serve on the board, but are not employees. My brother is lost in what to do, and how to go about his day with a man (his father) who has deceived him and exhibits manipulation now with this new situation.


Answer:

The first question to ask is whether the affair is on-going, and whether your father has put it behind him. This issue then becomes a matter for your mother and father to work out, ideally with the help of a seasoned marital therapist. If the affair is ongoing, the second question is whether this interferes with the business, for example, is the affair with an employee, which raises massive issues of risk for the company. If the affair does not interfere with the business, and family members have confronted their father directly about their concerns, then this is a matter for your father and mother to work out between them. If this issue leads to divorce, then the question is how to keep the business separate from the divorce process, if at all possible. (See also my column from Family Business magazine, under Published Articles on this web site on "The Good Divorce"). Since this is a complex situation, depending greatly on the personalities of those involved, I suggest your family meet with a knowledgable psychologist or professional to sort out your options. Your brother will have to decide whether working in the company means enough to him to choose to continue and keep his father's personal choices separate from their day to day work together. Affairs have different meanings: sometimes they represent a "mid life crisis" that is temporary and resolvable; sometimes they are long-standing and represent major deception, financial support, etc.; sometimes they are red flags that the marriage needs to be renegotiated, and can eventually result in a more honest marital relationship. Let me know if I can help your family in a more direct way.

 

 
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