One of the biggest financial threats to a thriving medical practice is actually divorce.
If you're a physician starting your own practice, you're probably no stranger to the long hours that you need to devote to business -- but that may increase your chances of ending up in divorce court. Doctors have a 10%-20% greater risk of divorce than the average individual -- which means that doctors need to understand what they can do to keep their personal lives from destroying their professional ones.
Consider a Post-Nuptial Agreement
If you and your spouse married while you were both young and just starting out, the odds are good that neither of you thought about getting a prenuptial agreement that would spell out how your assets would be divided in the event of a divorce. That isn't unusual -- people who don't have any assets seldom can't really look into a crystal ball and see that one day they'll be opening their own practice.
However, if you're just about to open your own practice, sit down with your spouse and talk about what you can both agree is a fair division of assets should the worst happen. It's easiest to come to a fair agreement when you're actually on good terms with each other -- and having that agreement can actually help relieve feelings of doubt and insecurity on both sides in the future.
For example, the spouse who is a physician won't be worried that his or her non-physician spouse is planning on leaving and destroying the practice in the process and the non-physician spouse won't be worried that his or her physician-spouse is keeping secrets and hiding assets in order to protect the business. A post-nuptial agreement can be a one-time "discuss it, sign it, and forget it" experience -- just make certain that you each have your own counsel in order to keep things fair and to avoid any issues with the legality of the deal.
Make a Practice Valuation a Priority
If you do end up facing a divorce, one thing that has to be a priority is a professional valuation of your practice. You don't want to take the risk of undervaluing your practice and end up accused of trying to hide marital assets. You also don't want to overvalue your practice and end up paying more than what's fair to your spouse.
Keep in mind that your spouse (no matter how angry) probably doesn't want to see you lose your practice -- especially if his or her future spousal support payments are coming from that source. However, he or she does have a claim against the value of the practice. Once you realize that you are essentially in the position of having to "buy out" your husband or wife as if he or she were a business partner, it becomes easier to focus on the business and let the experts -- like your appraiser and your attorney -- focus on the divorce.
For more advice on how to keep your divorce from meddling with your medical practice, talk to an attorney like Roderic H. Slayton, PC today.Share
4 October 2017
My name is Laura, and I am an attorney specializing in helping clients leave violent marriages. The law can help victims be safe, but many potential clients cannot afford legal services and may be afraid to pursue divorce. They may not be aware of services that have been created to keep them hidden from violent ex-partners and to help them be awarded assets in a divorce so they can provide for themselves and their families. I hope to raise awareness of these issues as well as help direct people in danger to facilities where they can receive guidance and financial assistance.