Are you a licensed professional, who has built a successful practice from scratch during your marriage? Do you co-own a professional office? Did you start a private practice before your marriage, where you think that your estranged spouse has no marital interest in it? Whether you are a doctor, a dentist, a therapist, an engineer, an architect, a lawyer, an accountant, a realtor, a financial broker, or another professional, you may have spent your entire career building your professional practice. When you get divorced, there is a lot at stake not only for you but likewise for your spouse.
You already know that a private practice started or acquired by a spouse during the marriage is marital property. But what about a private practice of your spouse started before your marriage? Any appreciation on a premarital private practice during the marriage constitutes a marital asset and thus is subject to the property division in a divorce case. 23 Pa.C.S. § 3501. What is a fair price tag for your practice? With regards to the assets (real estate, equipment, etc.), intellectual property (trademarked goods and services, patents, etc.), debts and other liabilities, liens, accounts receivable, government/private contracts, grants, annual interest on all those loans that you and your business partners have given to the practice, lawsuits and settlements, tax returns, etc., to what extent do all of these impact the value of the practice?
And to what portion of that value is your spouse entitled? Can the court allow that spouse to take over your licensed practice or have a share in its operations after divorce? Should that spouse even get anything if he or she committed adultery or other marital misconduct, such as physical or psychological abuse? In Pennsylvania, your marital estate is divided equitably (i.e. fairly but not necessarily 50/50) and without regard to any marital misconduct. There is a statutory list of factors that the court will consider to arrive at that equitable split. 23 Pa.S.C. § 3502. Your spouse’s contribution to your education, training, and increased earning power is among those factors.
We know what questions to ask and we know the answers; if we do not know the answer, we know where to find it. Our Pittsburgh-based law firm has been in business for over 15 years and has over 30 years of combined legal experience. We have represented over 1,000 clients, including professionals and their spouses in a wide diversity of complex family law cases. Owning a legal practice ourselves, we are unmistakably aware of the issues that come up in these cases and the valid concerns that you have. Not only do we secure an accurate business evaluation, but we pursue the approach that best serves our client’s interests. We work with a professional team of valuation specialists, vocational experts, forensic accountants, and other professionals who can assist you and us in determining the value of the practice that is the most credible and most favorable to your interests.