Doctors have to deal with stressful situations on a daily basis but nothing can prepare them for a divorce. Physicians have demanding jobs, and on top of maintaining a practice, they may have to deal with the various issues involved in a divorce.
While doctors do their best to prevent mistakes when treating patients, they often don’t take the same care in their divorce. They make serious mistakes that affect their medical practice as well as any children for many years.
A physician divorce comes with unique challenges. These divorces are different in many ways. Doctors need to know how to make the right decisions. Here are some of the biggest mistakes that doctors make.
Hiring the Wrong Lawyer
Sometimes doctors hire the wrong lawyers to take on their divorce cases. They often look to corporate counsel, which is inappropriate. They may also hire lawyers who have no experience working with doctors. Physicians need experienced lawyers who can identify the marital and separate property as well as properly value all their assets. This is extremely important, as doctors often have many complex assets, such as professional practices, business entities, real estate, limited partnerships, employment benefits, retirement funds, IRAs, 401ks, stock options, and profit-sharing plans.
Ignoring Deadlines and Requests
Lawyers need help from their clients from time to time. They may need certain documents or information in order to file paperwork on time. There are laws and deadlines involved. If doctors disregard them, it makes the process more difficult. Doctors need to respond to requests in a timely manner.
Not Getting a Confidentiality Agreement
Physicians often fail to obtain a confidentiality agreement to protect all confidential and proprietary information related to medical practice. Having such an agreement can limit the disclosure of information, such as patient lists, except to lawyers and consultants or experts retained by the counsel. By having a confidentiality agreement, the doctor can limit the confidential and proprietary information by a valuation expert retained by their spouse.
Assuming That Marital Property Will Be Split Evenly
Physicians often assume that property will be split 50/50. However, that is not always the case. Because doctors often earn much more than their spouses, there are many factors at play, such as:
- Differences in the spouses’ earning power
- Health and ages of both spouses
- Education and employability of both spouses
- Earning power and business opportunities
- Marital debts
- Need for future financial support
- Needs of the children
- Tax consequences of the marital assets
- Expected inheritance
- Fraud on the marital estate
- Attorney fees
Not Properly Valuing a Medical Practice
Doctors tend to understate or overstate their medical practice. Valuation is a hotly contested issue, which is why doctors should work closely with their lawyers and valuation experts to obtain the proper value. There is personal goodwill and commercial goodwill to consider. Personal goodwill is based on an individual’s reputation, experience, and ability, and it attaches to the physician. Personal goodwill is not divisible in a divorce. Commercial goodwill relates to an entity’s reputation and its ability to attract and retain patients. Commercial goodwill is divisible in a divorce.
Avoiding Full Disclosure
Physicians often disclose limited personal or business information, which can negatively affect their divorce. When they fail to disclose all of their bad conduct up front, this can have devastating consequences. Such damaging information can include the existence of an affair, problems with the practice, or alcohol or drug problems. When a lawyer is aware of such damaging information, they can deal with it early on in an appropriate manner. When the information comes out in court, it’s too late.
Not Being an Active Caregivers of Their Children
Physicians often work long hours and are very busy. They tend to leave the childcare duties to the other spouse, which means they will likely be the custodial parent. When physicians have custody, it becomes a balancing act because they are not used to dealing with childcare duties and coordinating these duties with babysitters or nannies. Doctors need to keep this in mind and learn how to make plans accordingly so they can balance their kids with their careers.
Contact Us Today
Anyone can get a divorce, and doctors are no exception. However, these divorces are often complicated due to the amount of assets involved.
No matter your profession, if you have a lot of assets that you want to protect in a divorce, seek legal help from the Ohio high asset divorce attorneys at Lawrence Law Office. We understand the unique issues involved. Fill out the online form or call (614) 363-0752 to schedule a consultation with our office.