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Property Division in Divorce: What Happens to a Professional Practice?

Apart from issues involving children, the division of assets is generally the most contentious issue in any divorce case. The division of assets can quickly become fiercely disputed, particularly if complex assets are involved. An ownership stake in professional practice is a notoriously complex asset. Professional practices have many unique characteristics that can make asset division more challenging. It is common for Florida professionals to worry that their divorce will damage, or even destroy, their practice. Fortunately, an experienced Orlando divorce attorney can help you find a divorce settlement that is both fair for your personal interests and adequately protects your professional practice.

Dividing Assets in Florida: Equitable Distribution

Florida uses an ‘equitable distribution’ standard for dividing a divorcing couple’s assets and liabilities. This means that Florida courts will try to divide a couple’s assets in a ‘fair’ manner. It is important to note that an equitable distribution is often not an equal distribution. Florida courts will consider a number of factors when determining property distribution. This includes everything from the length of a marriage to the assets each spouse owned prior to the relationship. Each divorce case needs individualized attention. For example, if a couple got married in their early 40s, and one spouse already had a well established dental practice, a court will like view that practice as largely separate property. However, if a couple gets married in their early 20s, and then one spouse goes to dental school and subsequently opens up a professional practice, while the other spouse was at home raising the couple’s children, then the court will likely view the professional practice largely as marital property. The individual circumstances of each marriage will have a major impact on how a Florida court will view a professional practice.

You Need a Comprehensive Business Valuation

Ultimately, professionals need to be able to ensure the protection of their practice. The best way to ensure the protection of the business is to find an amicable settlement for your divorce. This does not mean giving up on your rights to a fair share of the assets; your divorce attorney will always aggressively protect your rights. Instead, it means finding a solution that protects your rights and the future of your professional practice. Often, the best way to do this is by looking for opportunities to reduce conflict. Getting a comprehensive business valuation is one of the keys to move a complex divorce towards a settlement. When both parties understand the value of the business, and the importance of its continued viability, it will generally be easier to find a settlement agreement. Comprehensive business valuations are especially important for professional practices because these businesses are so difficult to value. Intangible factors such as client goodwill and business reputation often drive the value of a professional practice. If you have any questions about business valuation and divorce, contact an experienced attorney for additional information.

Need Legal Assistance?

At the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, our team has extensive experiences helping Florida professionals, and small business owners, through the divorce process. If you have any questions about the division of professional assets in divorce, please do not hesitate to contact our Orlando office today at 407-521-7171.

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