If you are a professional; such as, a doctor, lawyer, certified accountant or have any other type of private practice then your practice could be on the chopping block when it comes to divorce. In the state of Georgia the law states that even the practice may be subjected to equitable division between you and your spouse. This equitable division could drastically impact your practice and the terms of future ownership. To make matters worse recent studies demonstrate that those who own private practices are, “20% more likely than the general population to divorce.” If you or your spouse are considering divorce and you wish to retain as much of your practice as possible then it is important to look at the divorce, be proactive, and to avoid risk and other mistakes that are likely to place the practice in a disastrous predicament.
How to Avoid a Professional Practice Divorce Disaster
The most effective and proactive way to avoid a divorce disaster is to have had the other spouse sign a prenuptial agreement to protect the practices interest prior to the marriage. Both men and women should consider a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage especially if they are studying to develop a professional practice or are even in the beginning stages of developing their practice. Unfortunately, the majority of practicing professionals do not typically obtain prenuptial agreements. Prenuptial agreements only get more necessary when individuals are entering in to subsequent marriages—which are proceeding more likely to fail. A prenuptial agreement has the ability to protect your business practice as a whole and protect any future earnings through the practice—yes, even future earnings in the practice may be subjected to equitable division.
Options for your Divorce
If you did not enter into a prenuptial agreement with your other spouse there are still other options for handling your divorce. It is imperative, even if you have your own law practice, to hire an attorney practicing family law who has substantial experience in divorce. One should never attempt to handle their own law case with such important issues at stake. When attempting to handle your case alone your decisions may be clouded and your judgments may be impaired by stress, emotions, and other external factors. Again, you should hire legal counsel to handle your case in any divorce circumstance despite legal experience.
You can reduce the cost of your divorce proceeding by attempting to settle all issues including the division of assets during mediation. In mediation both parties should be able to amicable resolve all divorce issues via a consent settlement agreement. In a contested situation resolving the divorce through mediation is the most effective way to reduce the cost of the divorce. During the mediation process the parties should attempt to resolve all issues without including arguments or emotions. Mediation in other words should be handled with a good faith effort to resolve the matters at hand and should resemble parties entering into a business contract. Resolving the issues in mediation allows for the spouses to decide how the conflicts will be resolved amongst themselves which almost always works out better for the parties as opposed to having the judge determine the outcome of the case.
Once a settlement offer is agreed upon then the spouses should have a legal representative review the information prior to signing the agreement. A legal representative will be able to review the document and ensure that the agreement protects your interest and is reflective of your goals in the case. Once an agreement is signed it may be furnished to the court to obtain a consent order which is finalized and signed by the judge. During your mediation you should have advisement by and attorney that has experience working with professionals. One of the largest mistakes made by professionals is hiring attorneys with little or no experience in high profile divorce cases. As a professional your case will be considered a high profile case and you will therefore need to hire an attorney with specialized experience handling cases like your own.
Divorce Issues for Professionals
Other issues that may impact professions include alimony, determining practice value, and handling investments. In most cases a spouse with a professional practice will be required to pay the other spouse alimony as proportioned by state guidelines. Financial issues such as alimony and divisions become more difficult in instances in which both spouses are professionals and or have both heavily invested into the practice. It is almost always necessary for the practice to be appraised by an expert professional to determine the business value for division during the divorce. The value of the practice will have a significant influence on awards of alimony and equitable division during the divorce. Investment accounts may also impact the amounts of alimony or equitable division. During a divorce investment accounts are subjected to division which may place the account at risk of liquidation, early withdrawal, etc.—which will need the review of professionals to protect your retirement.
Avoid Negative Divorce Coping
Going through a divorce is a difficult and stressful event which can place you at risk for several health and behavioral issues that can in turn negatively impact other areas within your divorce. For example, it is not uncommon for a professional to get arrested for DUI during the divorce proceeding, which will negatively impact his or her reputation and the practice. Another common problem for professionals is to take all of the stress inwardly and then in turn neglect their health and professional duties as a result of the stress toll. The mounting stress toll during a divorce can leave the professional with less energy, practice burn out, co-worker conflict, client conflict, lower practice productivity, decreased client engagement, and can event compromise client safety / client interest. Even if you have never had any emotional or substance abuse problems in the past a divorce may cause such problems to arise as a majority of individuals develop emotional and coping problems that lead to self-medicating and emotional disruptions.
COPING WITH DIVORCE
Self-Care Comes First
Self-care should always come first for you during a divorce. You should make extra time for you to release stress, get exercise, sleep, and work on self-improvement. You should also not sacrifice your ability to maintain your current physical appearance through, hygiene, haircuts, and adequate dress. If you are having trouble coping then you may want to hire a life coach to help you in making rational decisions and managing your stress. You should also be sure to participate in healthy pleasures that will act to relief your stress from emotionally inciting conflict during the divorce proceeding. It should also be important to avoid any activity that is a means of escapism and is detrimental to your healing processes.
Coping With Stress
Releasing stress and identifying stress during your divorce is imperative for the healing process and can actually improve the outcome of the divorce. In order to maintain full functioning of your practice you should make as many efforts as possible to divide the stress occurring at your work and home. It may be necessary to put on a mask to separate your business from your home much like an actor on and off the stage. This acting process is necessary so that the extra stresses of the business will not be transferred into the home/ divorce and so that the stresses of the home/ divorce will not be transferred in to the practice and then effect work ethic.
Openness at Work
You may need to be open with your colleges at work about the divorce, but you should avoid allowing your colleges from being too involved in the details. If you expose too many details of the divorce you may become over reliable on the college relationship to help you cope – this should be the role of the life coach. Also over sharing of information may reveal too many intimate details compromising your leadership and authoritarian position. Lastly, anything that you may say to colleges at work may still be reported back to your spouse. To your colleges you should always speak positively of your soon to be ex-spouse. Attacking your ex-spouses character will affect how others perceive your own character. Lastly, any disparaging information presented to your colleges can be dragged into your divorce case to damage your reputation with the court.
If you or your spouse is considering a divorce and you are a business professional then you should consult the Coleman Legal Group LLC. The Coleman Legal Group LLC. Has experience in high conflict divorce cases and has prior experience in handling cases for practicing professionals. You may call our office today to schedule your legal consultation or to talk to a legal professional concerning your case.