High net worth divorces, such as those involving a medical practitioner, may involve greater challenges than other types of divorces. When seeking divorce, a medical practitioner or his or her spouse should be represented by a skilled attorney to make sure his or her interests are protected. In New Jersey, courts try to equitably distribute marital property, which can include a medical practice developed over the course of the marriage. However, parties do not always agree about what a fair distribution would be. It may be necessary to retain a forensic accountant, professional appraiser, accountant, or other expert to present testimony to the other side and the court about the value of the practice, tax issues and cash flow. At Goldstein Law Group, our Monmouth County divorce lawyers are available to guide medical practitioners and their spouses through the process of an equitable distribution of marital property.Special Concerns for Medical Practitioners during a Divorce
For most medical practitioners, their practice is one of their most valuable assets. As the spouse of a doctor, you may see the practice as your asset as well because of time or money you contributed during the marriage. In some cases, both spouses are medical practitioners and own the practice together.
There can be difficulties in valuing a medical practice. If the spouses disagree on the market conditions and the real value of the business, they are likely to disagree about the value of business assets for the purposes of equitably dividing the property. An improper business valuation can skew how marital assets are divided.
If a couple started the medical practice together, the division of assets should be close to 50/50. It is rare for a couple to continue working together after divorce, which means that one doctor would need to be compensated for his or her portion of the marital property part of the practice. The doctor who stays usually buys out the partner. However, even a spouse who does not co-own the practice is usually entitled to a share of equity in the practice.
One asset of a medical practice that may need to be divided is goodwill. This is an intangible asset arising because of the name or reputation of a practice, as well as the loyalty of patients, its location, and other factors. Generally, it is the likelihood that a patient will keep returning to a practice, but there are two types of goodwill associated with a medical practice: reputational and professional. Reputational goodwill depends on an individual doctor's continuing efforts. Professional goodwill is a business asset that has a value independent of the continued presence or reputation of a particular doctor. Both reputational and professional goodwill are subject to equitable division in New Jersey. However, unlike in some other states, a medical degree is not subject to equitable division in New Jersey.
The real estate associated with the practice is usually appraised separately from practice assets like goodwill. The building itself is a non-operating asset. Usually, a real estate appraiser with experience in medical real estate can determine its value. The appraiser will consider whether the practice owns the building or rents it, and if the practice owns the building, whether it collects income from other tenants. You may need to compensate your spouse for a portion of equity in the building. If your practice involves multiple doctors, this can be accomplished by selling your portion of the building to your partners and renting space back from them. The portion you receive from the sale can be distributed in part to your ex-spouse.Consult a Divorce Lawyer in Monmouth County
If you are a medical practitioner or the spouse of a practitioner seeking a divorce, you should consult a family law attorney who can protect your interests. Goldstein Law Group maintains a sophisticated practice in Old Bridge with a satellite office in Freehold. Our Monmouth County divorce attorneys also serve clients in East Brunswick, Manalapan, and Rumson, as well as throughout Middlesex County. Contact us for a consultation at 732-967-6777 or via our online form.