Divorce Involving Professional Practices
PROVIDING SKILLED GUIDANCE IN FLORIDA DIVORCES INVOLVING PROFESSIONAL PRACTICES
Protecting what you worked so hard to build
A professional medical, dental, accounting, real estate, insurance or law practice is more than the sum of furniture, equipment and property. Its real value comes from years of education, continuing education and licensure and the goodwill that has been earned in client confidence and repeat business.
When a divorce involves a professional practice, the stakes are high and require strong advocacy from the experienced divorce attorney at the Law Offices of Matthew Z. Martell, P.A. in Sarasota and Bradenton Florida.
Asset characterization and what it means in your divorce
Deciding what is marital property and what is separate property is the first step in deciding what is and what is not going to be subject to equitable distribution. What is true in any high asset Florida divorce is also true in divorces involving a professional practice: what did you own before the marriage and what was acquired during the marriage?
Marital property may include expensive equipment, such as might be found in a medical or dental practice, depending on when it was acquired. It may also include real estate, if, for instance, the building in which the practice is located was purchased during the marriage.
Tangible and intangible assets
Tangible assets are those that can be touched, seen, weighed or measured. Vehicles, MRI machines, dental vacuum systems, computers and copiers are all tangible. It is the intangible assets where the real value of a professional practice may be found. Intangible assets include:
- Intellectual property: patents, copyrights, trade secrets or brands
- Licenses, certificates and degrees
- Goodwill: referrals, reputation, professional standing
Goodwill is hard to qualify, but Florida law makes a distinction between personal goodwill, which is regarded as individual skill and reputation of the professional, and thus is not regarded as a marital asset, and enterprise goodwill, or “ the tendency of clients/patients to return to and recommend the practice irrespective of the reputation of the individual practitioners.” The latter may be considered a marital asset, even though it is intangible.
Professional practice partnerships
Without a doubt, a professional practice partnership adds to the complexity of a divorce. It must first be determined what percentage of the practice is owned by the spouse who is the professional. Only that percentage may be considered in equitable distribution of marital property.
Whether your professional practice is part of a partnership or not, you will require the services of an an attorney with experience in divorces involving professional practices to ensure that your rights are protected.
CONTACT OUR SARASOTA AND BRADENTON LAW OFFICES FOR A FREE PHONE CONSULTATION
Let us help you to protect the professional practice you worked so hard to build. Contact us or call our law offices at (941) 556-7020 to schedule a free 30-minute initial phone consultation to discuss your needs.