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I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today.
What was the agreement regarding who would do what when they purchased the restaurant? Is there anything in writing that sets forth their obligations?
For your wife to force a buyout, she'd have to be able to show that her mother violated the agreement they made when they first went into business together. If it was understood that they'd work 50/50, but there was nothing in writing, that could be very difficult to prove.
Any business owner can bring an action to dissolve the business - which means that all assets would be sold, all debts paid, and any remaining funds split between the two of them. That's what usually happens when business owners are not able to work peacefully together. Sometimes, the judge will allow a buyout if one party is willing and able to buy out the other - but your wife would have to pay 50% of the value of the business.