Most physicians have ownership of a medical practice -- often with other doctors. Their share of that partnership is often one of their most valuable financial assets. Therefore, when they divorce, it's crucial to get an accurate value on that practice. It's also essential for the doctor to notify the other partners of the divorce, since their share of the practice may be impacted.
Bring in the Forensic Accountants
A family law attorney will generally recommend that a doctor bring a forensic accountant onto the team who has experience assessing the value of medical practices. The accountant will look at the tangible assets, such as equipment and furniture, as well as intangible assets such as goodwill. Other relevant factors are whether the practice was established before or after the doctor got married, whether there is a prenuptial agreement, a buy/sell agreement and any stock or proceeds the doctor could be entitled to later that the spouse may have a right to share.
The non-physician spouse is likely to get his or her own forensic accountant to conduct a valuation as well. If the values that the two accountants arrive at differ significantly, there may be a battle of the experts in court. The non-physician spouse's accountant will also make sure that the other spouse has gotten the share of the income from the practice to which he or she has been entitled during the marriage.
Know Your State Laws
In some states, a non-physician spouse can get a share of the practice as part of the divorce settlement. However, in many places, people who aren't doctors aren't allowed to have an ownership in a medical practice or have doctors in their employment. That's why it's essential to know what your state laws allow.
If you are a physician getting a divorce or if your spouse is a physician with a medical practice, it's crucial to choose a family law attorney who has experience in dividing medical practices and a qualified forensic accountant. Getting your fair share of the practice in the divorce is likely going to be one of -- if not the -- key financial goals.
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