Dentists facing divorce: practical steps to surviving, Part 2
Divorce is seldom easy, even the so-called "nice" divorces. Will Parrish has been through one, and he wants to share what he learned to hopefully spare others quite as much pain.
Divorce is seldom easy, even the so-called "nice" divorces. Will Parrish has been through one, and he wants to share what he learned to hopefully spare others quite as much pain.Let’s say you’ve been served with a complaint for divorce, or that you recently had your spouse served with divorce papers. Either way, the next several weeks, months, maybe even years are likely to be a difficult and trying time. Just be prepared that there is no “nice” divorce.
(Before reading further, an important note: Nothing in this article should be considered legal or financial advice. These are simply practical ideas from a person who has faced divorce. You should consult a qualified divorce attorney in your state if you are contemplating or currently going through a divorce.)
Here are a few things I’ve learned myself and from friends and clients who have survived the trauma of ending a marriage.
Throughout the divorce process it is somewhat likely that you will have your identity dictated to you. This could come in the form of personal insults and attacks from your future ex, from a well-paid opposing divorce attorney, or from your in-laws. The bottom line is, these people are all too willing to tell you and others who you are and what you are about.
Do not let this stand! While not every insult or comment is worthy of a response, and in most cases you shouldn’t respond to insults, it is important to feed yourself a steady stream of affirmations about the person you truly are. You know who you are! Maintain your own identity and remember this—the most important person who needs to know the true you is you!
Self-care is not selfish
This one is especially tough if children are involved. However, think about the airplane oxygen mask analogy. When we board a plane and get the safety talk, we’re told to put on our own oxygen mask before assisting others, including our children. Why? Because if we pass out trying to help someone else we become useless in the emergency process, and in fact become another liability.
The best thing you can do for everyone involved in your life right now is to take care of you. Take a walk every day. Get a massage. Listen to music. Go to the library. A few simple things that give you an occasional break can make a big difference. Your family and patients are relying on you to be there for them. Take care of yourself first so you can meet their needs too.
Shore up your public image
Even in “nice” divorces, public image can be damaged. This can be detrimental to any dental practice, but especially a new practice, and especially in a small town. Now is the time to keep your public image positive. Continue your charitable activities. Include blurbs in your newsletters and emails about the good things you and your practice are doing in the community. Reinforce your level of patient care and be even more service oriented.
While it might sound shameless, it really isn’t. In the event a public smear campaign is underway by a vindictive ex-spouse, these are the activities that will keep your image afloat. Also, step up your level of patient care. Patients want to feel appreciated, and happy patients are paying patients!
Mind your business
Right now your practice is one of the most important assets in your life. It’s likely that your practice value will be listed as an asset that you’ll have to split with your spouse. It is extremely important that you prove what the current value is so that a fair settlement is reached. Generally, a spouse will attempt to inflate the value of the practice, and the dentist will try to understate the value. Neither is right.
An independent valuation should be performed by a mutually agreed upon valuation firm to come to an unbiased value for the practice. One way to help accomplish this is to list three valuation firms that are separated from the practice geographically. Another strategy is for each spouse to hire their own valuation firms and take the average of the two.
Ensuring there are good income and business records is very important at this time. Having an accurate accounting of expenses and income will only help with an eventual settlement. Now would be a good time to strengthen your relationship with your CPA, and possibly even hiring the person to keep your books through the process if you do not use this service already. There is a great deal of value in having reports generated by a qualified professional as opposed to presenting reports the dentist has done for him or herself.
The last thing you should know is that you’re not alone. There are many other people facing the same challenges as you, and as bad as your situation feels right now, there are others going through something worse.
Most communities offer divorce support groups through churches and other civic organizations. Find one that fits your needs and become involved. Your family and friends can offer a great deal of support and likely will be that “safe place” you can go when needed.
Reading my “Ten Maxims of Divorce: How I stayed sane during an insane process”might be helpful in conjunction with this article.
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Will Parrish, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA), is a founding partner of Slate, Disharoon, Parrish and Associates, LLC, in Knoxville, Tennessee. The firm specializes in services for medical professionals, business owners, and corporate executives, and in divorce financial planning. Contact Will with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (865) 357-7373. Visit sdp-planning.com.
Securities offered through Registered Representatives of Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisers, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Slate, Disharoon, Parrish & Associates, LLC and Cambridge are not affiliated.