Six things doctors, lawyers and other professionals should know when facing divorce
Good news for doctors, lawyers, dentists, pharmacists and other professionals when it comes to divorce. You are actually less likely then some other professions to be facing divorce according to the 2010 census. (The professions most likely to divorce include dancers, bartenders, and massage therapists) When professionals are facing a divorce, there are some special considerations and issues you should be prepared to address.
If you are a doctor, dentist, or lawyer there are some special considerations when facing a divorce.
1. Valuation of a Business. Your medical, legal or dental practice is likely the largest asset you own. If you opened your business during your marriage, or the business has grown since you married, all or some of your professional practice is community property and subject to equitable division. Rather than spending thousands of dollars hiring dualing experts to quibble over what the professional practice is worth, consider hiring a mutually agreed upon business valuation expert to determine a value you agree in advance you will use when negotiating. When selecting an expert, talk to several, and make sure the expert you select is experienced and certified.
2. Student loans. If you are a doctor, dentist, lawyer or other professional, it is likley that you have large student loan debt. If the debt was incurred before the marriage, it is separate debt. If it was incurred during your marriage, it is community debt. Most of the time, student loan debt goes with the indivudual who incurred the debt. They are, after all, the spouse who will continue to benefit from the degree. Other considerations include, what was the debt used for? If the debt was used for living expenses, it is more likely to be subject to division between the parties. One option is to offset the value of the business by the student loan debt. This is incredibly fact specific and worth speaking with you lawyer about.
3. Parenting time. Arizona wants to encourage equal parenting time with two good parents. What happens when one parent is on call or works long hours and the other parent is home or works only part time? This can definitely be complicated. My suggestion is to take a look at the current schedules of the kids and both parents and try to come up with a plan that works. A 5-2-2-5 or a week on week off may not make sense, but if one parent is able to take mornings and another evenings or if a doctor knows his or her on call schedule for the next month, we may be able to come up witha creative solution to maximize each parent’s time with the children.
4. Spousal Maintenance. A person qualifies for spousal maintenance if any of the following are true for the spouse seeking maintenance:
1. Lacks sufficient property, including property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for that spouse’s reasonable needs.
2. Is unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose age or condition is such that the custodian should not be required to seek employment outside the home or lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to be self-sufficient.
3. Contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse.
4. Had a marriage of long duration and is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self-sufficient.
Obviously, number three sticks out as the factor implicated with professionals facing divorce. But, in addition to contributing to a professionals schooling, spouses of professionals often support the career of their spouse by providing full time at home care for children. Demanding schedules and high wages make it more likely that the spouse of a professional would forgo career opportunities, making them more likely to need spousal maintenance.
5. Child Support. The Arizona child support calculator caps at $20,000 combined monthly income. In the case of a professional, monthly income may be well in excess of $20,000. Additionally, their may be expenses of the child that are extraordinarily high, like special lessons, schooling or activities.
6. Privacy/Confidentiality/Discovery. The final topic that affects professionals in divorce is the issue of privacy. In divorce actions, nothing is private unless an attorney requests the file be sealed. A professional in the community is likley concerned with maintaining the private details of their marriage and finances out of the public eye. If a reputation is marred in a divorce it can hurt both spouses, by impacting the professionals ability to pay support and maintenance.