…At least, when it comes to the majority rule on distinguishing enterprise from personal/professional goodwill in matrimonial cases. After dodging the issue in recent years, the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine addressed it head-on in Ahern v. Ahern (January 3, 2008), involving the valuation of a dental practice. “We now adopt the enterprise/personal framework for the purpose of evaluating the goodwill of a professional practice in the context of an equitable distribution of property,” the Court held. In this case, both parties’ appraisal experts “unequivocally” testified that the goodwill value of the dental practice resulted from the husband’s skill and reputation. “Although we do not presume to address all possible permutations of the enterprise/goodwill distinction—and we caution that these categories could prove overly simplistic when applied to the circumstances of other cases,” the Court said, it had “no difficulty” concluding that the personal goodwill value of the dental practice was “not a species of property subject to equitable division.” (Thanks to Eric Purvis of Dawson Smith Purvis & Bassett, PA (Portland, ME) for writing in to highlight the decision.)
We’ve added Ahern to “Goodwill Hunting,” our state-by-state summary of case law from all fifty U.S. jurisdictions, available here. At the same site, also look for: “Goodwill: Where Are We? How Did We Get Here? What Do We Do About It?”, the introduction by David Wood to BVR’s Guide to Personal v. Enterprise Goodwill (2008). With contributions from Jay Fishman, Mark Dietrich, Jim Alerding, Shannon Pratt, Kevin Yeanoplos, and others, the new Guide is a “first-class effort,” Wood says. Get your copy here.
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