No matter what caused the divorce, the uncertainty surrounding the future can feel beyond challenging. It can be that much harder if you don't have the right experts on your side.
Unfortunately, finding the right dental practice advisor, attorney, and, possibly, therapist to assist with the financial and emotional parts of the divorce is difficult. So, how do you go forward and find these people without the process draining you financially and emotionally?
Where to start
Friends and family will come to you with people they know who can help. They will mean well, but what has worked for others may not be right for you.
Bruce Bryen, CPA, CVA.
Two good resources are a dental certified public accountant (CPA) -- this type of professional will know the financial aspects of dental practices -- and an attorney. Sometimes, dentists have retained attorneys for employment agreements or to initiate state charters. However, that attorney may not be a great choice for handling your divorce. So, when you start reaching out to attorneys, ask them if they have worked on divorce cases that involved dentists in the past. If not, it's likely best to look elsewhere. For the most part, steer clear of friends who are attorneys and those who specialize in personal injuries or corporate law. They may talk a good game, but those types of lawyers are not prepared for divorce work.
Divorces are expensive and time consuming. Professionals who don't have divorce experience will have you wasting more time and money and will add to your frustration. Once you have retained the right representation, follow up and be diligent with responses and requests for documents. It will keep the flow going and, hopefully, not delay the finalization of the divorce.
A dental CPA is probably one of the best resources for helping you find a dental divorce attorney, dental practice valuation expert, and related specialists. Dental CPAs have worked with divorce attorneys and can often point you in the right direction. They also can help you review resumes and narrow down your options. But, don't forget that the final decision must be yours.
What to expect
You know your practice, you know its value, and you know the metric you use to arrive at that value. During a divorce, that basically goes out the window. If your case needs to go to mediation or ends up in court, an independent valuation must be completed. If a practice is not evaluated by an outside party, the mediator or the court likely will find the valuation as self-serving and won't give it much weight when making a decision.
A dental practice evaluator may offer dual representation since the valuation is being prepared not as an advocate but as someone who is offering the same opinion of the practice no matter who retained the person. Your attorney and dental CPA would be considered advocates, and, therefore, judges and mediators wouldn't consider their evidence unbiased. A dental practice evaluator with a certified valuation analyst (CVA) designation must adhere to certain guidelines and standards, and he or she signs a statement that clearly proves independence.
Once you are satisfied with the credentials of the experts who have been retained, you should believe in those people. If it is easy to sway the dental practice evaluator into taking your opinion, he or she is probably not the correct expert to retain. The judge, mediator, and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse will see right through this and then you, your practice, the valuation, and the evaluator will lose credibility.
Going through a divorce is challenging enough. Don't move ahead without a qualified attorney and dental CPA with the right backgrounds, experience, and abilities to support you and best showcase you and your practice's value. Making the right choice early will hopefully limit the drama and allow you to move ahead with your career.
Bruce Bryen, CPA, CVA, is a certified public accountant and a certified valuation analyst with more than 45 years of experience. Learn more about him and his services.
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