Goodwill, replacement compensation, discretionary expenses, excess earnings, capitalization rates… there’s a reason I got an MD and not an MBA. What does all this mean?
With all of the changes in medical economics, it is essential that you have a Seattle or Bellevue divorce lawyer who understands the ins and outs of the financial life of physicians. You need someone who not only works closely with practice valuation experts, but understands the rigors of your life as a physician. A divorce for medical professionals can be incredibly involved due to practice valuations and earning ability.
We Understand Your Concerns
As a former nurse married to a physician, Amanda DuBois has a special interest in the unique needs of physicians and other medical professionals facing divorce, and you need someone on your team experienced in divorce for medical professionals. She makes it a point to be easily accessible to you given the heavy demands of your schedule. We are often available for weekend appointments and will gladly give you our cell numbers so you can call at the end of your busy day. Call us to discuss your divorce and family law concerns.
Seattle and Bellevue Divorce Attorneys Who Understand How Divorce Affects Medical Professionals
If you are a physician going through a divorce in the Seattle or Bellevue area, you probably have these questions:
- How will my medical practice be valued?
- How can I maintain confidentiality in my business and with my patients while going through a practice valuation?
- What about my medical license? Is that an asset?
- Will my spouse get more assets because I have a valuable degree?
- What do I do about the fact that I make significantly more money than my spouse? Will I get nailed for extra spousal maintenance (alimony)?
- What about my reputation? Will my confidential financial information end up in the public record?
- Can I still retire? I can’t keep up this pace forever. Will my spouse really get half of my retirement savings?
- How can I deal with the demands of this divorce and still have the energy to care for patients? What about court hearings? Will I have to take time away from my surgical schedule?
- I can’t imagine how I can get a fair parenting plan, given my unpredictable schedule. What do I do if I have the kids and get called in to the hospital?
As a doctor, you face unique issues when going through the divorce process. Not only do you have to venture into the unfamiliar terrain of practice valuations, you also have to deal with unusual parenting plan schedules and the fear of having to pay maintenance for longer than you had planned to continue to practice. These are issues that your legal team should be prepared to address.
Does Your Degree Have Value?
The first issue that must be analyzed is whether your practice or your degree has value, and if so, how much. This depends on the nature of your practice. Some physicians work as employees at institutions like Group Health, the VA or Pacific Medical Centers, in which case their practice likely has little to no value at all. And then there are some hybrid situations where you sold your practice to a larger group and your practice has value but it may be limited by the legal arrangements of the group, although in these situations good will might still be a factor. Then there are the private practices that may have significant or modest value, depending a variety of factors.
Valuing a medical practice must be performed by a valuation expert who has specific experience in this area. As you know, a professional practice is focused on selling medical services and as such, most practice value lies not in the value of tangible assets, but in the value of the physician’s earning capacity. Accordingly, experts look at issues such as the location and growth rate of the practice, the referral base, the reputation of the physician, the age of the physician, and the work habits of the physician. Your divorce lawyer should understand these issues and have a close working relationship with practice valuation experts in Bellevue and Seattle.
As far as the value of your medical license itself, there are certain legal factors that will determine this issue. Your divorce attorney should be familiar with the case law in the state of Washington regarding the value of your education.
Most physicians are concerned with the issue of confidentiality. It is essential that you find a divorce lawyer who is cognizant of the importance of obtaining the necessary protective orders so that your confidentiality is maintained as your divorce proceeds.
Preserving Your Lifestyle
As a physician, you have a demanding lifestyle and so when you gather your legal team, you want to be sure to find a law firm that understands what it took to build a successful practice and the importance of you being available to handle the demands of your patients even though you’re going through a divorce. This is not a time during which you can afford to lose focus on the needs of your patients. Court hearings must be scheduled well in advance, if possible, so that you do not have to reschedule that surgery that has been on the books for weeks or months. And evening and weekend availability of a divorce attorney is a must for most physicians going through a divorce.
Many physicians have questions about spousal maintenance. Just like any other significant wage earner, if you make substantially more than your spouse, you will most likely be faced with some kind of maintenance package. One of the keys to minimizing this exposure is to work with a divorce lawyer who has a good relationship with a vocational assessment expert who can help find potential jobs or careers for your spouse if he or she is under- or unemployed.
Retirement is always an issue for physicians. Being a medical doctor makes special kinds of demands on a person. Most physicians do not practice for as many years as lawyers or other professionals. It is simply too physically intense. Your retirement savings take on special importance in this situation. And, yes, you will quite likely have to share it. This is why you want to have financial experts on your divorce team to help make these financially complex decisions with you.
Parenting plans for physicians can be especially daunting. Even amicable mediations can quickly become contentious when a physician tries to correlate the parenting plan with her or his call schedule. The most common complaint physician-spouses make is something like this: “S/he wants a divorce, but at the same time s/he expects me to be available to drop everything and run over and take the kids when the hospital calls!” Working with an experienced divorce legal team can really help both sides find a solution that works well for both the kids and the parents.
Are you a medical professional faced with a divorce? Please contact us today to arrange a consultation with one of our Seattle or Bellevue divorce attorneys. We have offices in Seattle and Bellevue and can meet with you in one or both of those locations as needed. We look forward to meeting you and helping you achieve the solutions you seek in your medical professional divorce.