– from Tammy C. in Greendale, WI

Question Details:

My husband and I have been married for nearly a decade. We are now discussing getting a divorce. I have a small dental practice, and he works at a garage. I make the majority of our income. He seems to think he can have my practice valued higher by the standards of goodwill. Is goodwill a tangible asset?

Family Law Attorney Response:

Yes, however it is hard to prove. It is also usually associated with a commercial business rather than a practice.

This was demonstrated in the case of Peerenboom v. Peerenboom 147 Wis. 2d 547, 433 N.W.2d 282 (Ct. App. 1988). In this instance, a husband owned a dental practice and his wife was unemployed with a degree. They both provided expert testimony as to the goodwill associated with the practice. The court decided to disregard the testimony and placed its own value based on the tangible assets of the business. The husband appealed, and the court of appeals reversed. If evidence proves that goodwill exists, it must be proven to be marketable and the value must exceed the value of the assets, skills, and/or services of the business, only then is it considered a divisible marital asset.

I suggest that you contact an experienced family law attorney before moving forward.

Trisha Festerling, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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