When Floridians get divorced, property division is a common problem. For people who have been lucky enough to have a successful life, a high-asset divorce is even more complicated. The law says that property will be equitably distributed. Since it strives for fairness and does not mean that property will be split in half, there are variables that must be considered based on circumstances. This is vital in a case where people have substantial income, assets, a business and other high-value properties.
What about a professional practice in a divorce?
For professionals like doctors, lawyers and people who have another type of professional practice, it is important to understand how this is handled with property division. The court begins with the assumption that property that was acquired during the marriage will be split equally to achieve a fair outcome. However, a professional practice is one reason why it might not be shared equally.
A professional practice can be started by a person who is qualified and trained to run it. If, for example, the person is a physician, they will obviously want to retain that practice and operate it without interference from the other party. The key to it being subject to equitable distribution is whether it was started or grew during the marriage. If it was already in place before the marriage and remains at approximately the same level as it was during the marriage, then it will likely be non-marital property.
Another factor is if the non-professional spouse contributed to the professional spouse getting the education and training necessary to create and grow the practice by being a homemaker or putting their own career objectives on hold. They could have worked at the practice or contributed in other ways. That could be considered when deciding if that person should be compensated for their contribution even if they do not get a share of the practice. Its value must be assessed to try and come to a fair determination as to how to settle the matter.
Experienced assistance is key with complex, high-asset property division
Any divorce can be complex, but if there is the foundation for extensive acrimony over property that might or might not be subject to equitable distribution, it can take extensive time to sort through. While negotiation is generally preferable, that is not always possible in particularly difficult high-asset divorce cases.
For people in this situation, it is imperative to be aware of options to try and forge a workable solution. The person who owns the practice and the other party should have experienced advice from the start to try and achieve an acceptable result.