Provided by:  Jennifer Kirschenbaum, Esq.
January 28, 2020
 
 
Question:

Jennifer, 

The situation at the practice has gone from intolerable to unlivable.  How do I get rid of my partner? 

Thanks, 
Dr. L

Answer:

I hope you planned for this on the way in!  Divorce without a good prenup can be very very messy.  Your partnership document (partnership agreement, operating agreement or shareholder agreement) should have the governing mechanism, including purchase price, payout, notice, post-purchase rights of the parties, including rights to patients, space, etc.   However, in all likelihood, your document will be deficient (for a host of reasons, including as a main reason, on the way in you did not properly plan for the way out).   

That being said, "getting rid of a partner", keeping your patients, the staff, the location and operations running is not usually an easy outcome if you are also the one pushing the other partner out - there will be a price to be paid (preferably over time at a low interest rate!). 

The first two steps in this process involve legal and accounting, in no particular order.  Legal, to opine on the contractual steps necessary to effectuate, and your rights, and accounting to involve themselves in valuing (if warranted) the interest of each party involved and the practice as a whole.  

Hopefully your governing document also specifies a dispute resolution process that is efficient, such as arbitration before a reasonable and speedy arbitrator (happy to refer), or mediation.   

When navigating this type of situation a few words of advice -
  1. The more reasonable party will likely get the rawer deal in settlement. 
  2. You cannot settle without at least 1 party being reasonable.
  3. Both Parties lose if the dispute winds up in litigation
  4. Don't wait to tag me in.  If you call me early, I can help stage of Truth number 3. 
 Final point on this topic - if all is well on the homefront but you are aware you have a deficient governing document, let's fix it now before you need it...