Dentists and their spouses face several unique challenges when confronting the divorce process and, so, when dentists get divorced, they oftentimes need to consider certain issues that others may not need to think about. This is when an experienced divorce attorney at Kirker│Davis LLP is essential. Below are two potentially relevant special considerations for when dentists and their spouses get divorced.
Property division is a key step in all divorce cases. In many instances, assets can be quickly identified, easily valued, and efficiently divided. However, this process becomes somewhat more complicated when either spouse owns a business, such as a dentist who owns her own practice. A practice’s monetary value is not only important to its owner(s), it is a central consideration when dividing property in divorce. When a dental practice owned by a divorcing spouse exists, it is standard procedure to have a professional appraiser assess the practice and its assets, including office equipment, accounts receivable, and leases. Once a reliable valuation has been established, the court will typically award the practice to the operating spouse and other marital assets which have an equivalent monetary value to the non-operating spouse. This outcome is largely guided by the state’s Corporate Practice of Dentistry doctrine, which strictly regulates the non-licensed influence and ownership of dentistry practices. For example, if the wife is a dentist who owns her own practice, but the husband is not a licensed dentist, he cannot have an ownership interest in the practice and, so, the court will grant the dental practice to the wife and grant the husband other assets that are of equal value to the practice, thus providing for an equal division of assets. If the couple lacks sufficient assets to provide for a suitable division, the court may award the non-operating spouse a money judgment secured by the practice and/or its assets.
A successful dental practice can bring many benefits to its owners, including financial success. Such benefits can add a layer of complexity to a divorce, however. The high net worth estates that accompany many divorces involving dentists requires careful analysis of the couple’s entire financial situation. The wealth built by many dentists often involves diversified asset portfolios, real estate, trusts, and retirement accounts. These varied asset classes make the property characterization phase of divorce (that is, the phase where the couple’s assets are determined to be either their separate or community property) particularly challenging. Further, such assets are sometimes acquired with a mix of the spouses’ separate funds, which can further complicate the characterization process. For this reason, it is very important to select a legal team that has dealt with high-value, complex estates in the past and is familiar with how to effectively, accurately, and efficiently facilitate this process. If you have questions regarding special considerations when divorcing as a dentist or divorcing as a dentist’s spouse in Texas, contact Kirker│Davis LLP to schedule a meeting with one of our lawyers today.