While all divorces pose challenges, physicians face some additional difficulties and complications in their divorce cases. These are particularly critical for doctors with an ownership interest in their practices.
Reade Law Firm, PC understands the complexities of doctors’ divorce and we know the steps necessary to protect our clients’ interests.
Financial Complications When Dividing Marital Property
Unlike in many jurisdictions, judges in Massachusetts do not distinguish much between property a spouse owned before the marriage and property acquired during the marriage. All property will be divided “equitably” or fairly and that can be a pretty vague standard. It is essential to ensure that the court hears all the arguments that support your objectives when dividing property.
If you have a private practice, your spouse will be entitled to a share of the value of that practice even if they never set foot in the office. It is often a good idea to consult a neutral financial professional who specializes in valuing medical practices to gain an accurate value of the practice and the divorcing partner’s share of that practice. Factors to be considered include:
- Accounts receivable
- Real estate and furnishings
- Equipment and supplies
- Goodwill and other intangible factors
It is possible that some assets, particularly intangible assets, may not be subject to equitable distribution, depending on the situation. Working with an attorney familiar with precedent and intricate distinctions in doctors’ divorce can make a big difference in the outcome of a case. Your advisor’s experience can also help to ensure that measures are put in place to allow the practice to operate smoothly during the divorce process and retain value moving forward.
Allocation of Debt
Doctors often carry significantly more debt than others, due to the costly education process as well as the investments needed to establish a private practice. Since these debts were used to support both partners during the marriage, they need to be allocated properly in the divorce.
Alimony and Child Support
In many cases, a non-doctor spouse worked to support their partner during the medical education process. The non-doctor spouse may also have sacrificed career opportunities to keep the home life running while the doctor worked long hours. These factors can make it more likely that the court would require the doctor to pay alimony to the non-doctor spouse. For instance, in a shorter marriage, a judge might order reimbursement alimony.
Alimony is based on a number of factors, but income plays a key role. It can be very difficult to gain an accurate and fair determination of both assets and income for an individual who owns a business, including a medical practice. Sometimes, spouses find ways to hide their income and assets while in other cases, their ability to access cash to pay alimony, child support, and other expenses is overexaggerated, leaving the doctor with very little to live on. It is important to ensure that the court sees the full picture with respect to finances to achieve a fair outcome.
Reade Law Firm, PC Protects Your Interests in a Doctor’s Divorce
At Reade Law Firm, we understand that every divorce situation is different, and we take the time to understand all the factors that come into play in your case. We believe in educating clients so they understand the full implications of their options before they make a decision. While we try to resolve disputes and reach fair settlements out of court, we are prepared to litigate zealously to protect your interests.
Schedule a confidential consultation to learn more about how we can position you for success during and after your divorce.