A Dentist’s Guide to Divorce in Texas

A Dentist’s Guide to Divorce in Texas

When a couple files for divorce, there are a million things that may be going through their heads. The children need to be cared for, the family home may need to be sold, spousal support may be required, and more. When a dentist and their spouse choose to divorce, they will face even more unique challenges that can complicate the divorce process on top of everything they are already tackling. A dental practice is a significant asset that must be considered when a dentist and their spouse divorce. Having an experienced divorce attorney who has previously worked with other dentists is essential. The family law attorneys at Terry & Roberts have extensive knowledge and experience helping dentists in Texas through a smooth divorce process that focuses on what is best for your family.

In all divorce cases, property division is a key step. Assets must be accurately identified for all parties, a value must be determined for each asset, and the assets must be divided in an efficient manner. This process is much more complex, though, when either spouse owns their own business in Texas. When a dentist owns their own practice, the practice’s monetary value is not the only concern its owner may have. The dental practice must be appraised by a professional appraiser who can assess the practice and its assets, including all accounts receivable, land ownership or lease, office equipment, and more. Many dentist offices have highly sophisticated diagnostic lab equipment that can increase the practice’s value significantly. X-ray machines and cancer screening tools can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars which would increase the value of the practice.

On top of the physical assets, there are also intangible assets for dental practices that must be accounted for including intellectual property and goodwill services. Defining goodwill services is challenging but can be done with the right experts. Goodwill services are related to the practice’s general reputation, referral business, and legacy. Many dentists rely on their good reputation and excellent bedside manner to grow their practices. To determine that value, the appraiser must look at quantifiable evidence to then define the intangible property. A dental practice’s excellent reputation can change the valuation of that practice. After an accurate and reliable valuation has been established by the appraiser, the court will typically award the practice to the dentist and will award assets to their spouse that are equal in monetary value to the value of the practice. It would not make sense to award the practice to the spouse who is not a currently licensed dentist in the state of Texas as outlined in the state’s Corporate Practice of Dentistry doctrine. If the divorcing couple does not have sufficient assets for an appropriate division, the court may award the spouse of the dentist a monetary sum secured by the practice and/or its associated assets.

With a successful dental practice comes the possibility of numerous benefits that the divorcing couple may share, including significant financial success. These benefits add another layer of complexity to the divorce process as the estate may be considered one of high-net worth or significant value. The entire financial situation of the divorcing couple must be fully understood. This can mean considering the dentist’s real estate acquisitions, trusts, retirement accounts, diversified asset portfolio, and medical insurance benefits. All assets listed must be classified as either community property or separate property to help determine how assets will be divided. If the dentist’s practice was formed prior to the marriage, it may not be considered community property, but the dentist’s spouse may still have rights to earnings or a pension plan associated with the practice. If the practice was formed during the marriage and was profitable, it will be considered community property in the divorce. Having a team of divorce attorneys with prior experience handling the disposition of high-value estates will be key to effectively and accurately facilitating the division of property.

Dentists who are going through the process of divorce must also be prepared to support themselves on their own. Developing and marketing their practice to grow their business may be necessary to support their family now that they are living on a sole income. They may also need to start making changes to their schedule to accommodate an increase in patients as well as their children’s schedules. This may mean opening up early, staying late, or closing the office early to take children to and from school or activities. Custody agreements must also consider the dental practice’s hours and schedule to help any children involved have a smooth transition. Reliable childcare or afterschool programs can also be arranged that will allow the dentist to continue to operate their business smoothly while taking care of the needs of their children and putting their family first.

Brazoria County Dentist Divorce Attorneys

If you’re looking for an experienced team of divorce attorneys in Brazoria County who can handle the complexities and delicacies of a dentist going through a divorce, contact Terry & Roberts. We have handled numerous dentist divorce cases, including those with complicated business ventures and prenuptial agreements involved. We can help keep your case private and out of the public eye as you and your spouse work through this difficult experience.

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