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What happens to a professional practice in a divorce?

Whether you, your spouse or both of you own a professional practice, you will, of course, want to retain your share in it if you divorce. Dividing the practice can be a complex process, and you will need someone to protect your interests.

Because a licensed professional practice is a business, it will need to be valued and possibly divided in a high-asset divorce, depending on the circumstances surrounding the couple and their income and assets. Many types of professionals have their own practices such as:

  • Dentists
  • Doctors
  • Veterinarians
  • Therapists, counselors, psychiatrists and psychologists
  • Attorneys
  • Real estate agents
  • Engineers
  • Advertising professionals
  • Designers
  • CPAs

How will this asset be divided?

Under Massachusetts law, marital assets are divided by a process called equitable distribution. This means that the marital assets will be divided fairly, which may not be an exact 50-50 division.

The practice may be divided between the spouses or it may be given to the licensed professional while their spouse receives other marital assets that will make it an equitable division for both people. If the spouses run the practice together, they may want to continue to stay at the practice and operate it jointly. If that is not possible, however, one person can buy out the other’s share.

Did one spouse support the other during school and the early years of the practice?

It is not unusual for one spouse to support the person who is going to school to get their professional license. If they start the practice from the ground up, the supporting spouse may continue to work to provide for the family while the practice grows. In these cases, the spouse who supported the licensed professional for years may have the right to a share of the practice. The ultimate decision, however, will depend on the specific details of each divorce.

People who can help in these unique divorces

In addition to attorneys, these cases often include assistance from business valuators and financial experts to accurately calculate the practice’s value and weigh that with the income and assets of each spouse to reach an equitable distribution of assets. Though it sounds like an enormous undertaking, it can be done and the couple can move on with their new lives.

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