Professional jobs often have unique burdens, and the medical profession is no exception. Stress from the nature of medical practice can often bleed into the personal life of such individuals. Midnight phone calls, abandoned dinner on the table, a hurried departure from a little league game: for some, these are almost routine.
The demands of modern medical practice may take its toll on the health care workers and their marriage and family. As a result, when one spouse or the other decides that they need to move on from the marriage, the following points should be kept in mind.
The financial complexities of a medical divorce
Medical professionals, including physicians and surgeons, are often in a higher income bracket. This corresponds to a higher standard of living, including the possibilities of:
- Greater and more complex assets
- A home in a high-end neighborhood
- Vacation homes
- Cars, boats, or aircraft
- Artwork or other valuables
To maintain this lifestyle for as long as possible, they may establish:
- A robust retirement account
- A mixture of bank and other investment accounts
- Stock options
- Rental properties
- A side business
It is common for many doctors to utilize student loans or other forms of financing to pay for their medical education. According to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, medical school students often graduate with over $200,000 in debt. To complete their specialty training, additional training through internships and residencies may be required.
In California, property, which includes assets and liabilities, must be characterized between community property and separate property.
Pursuant to the California Family Code, all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the marriage while domiciled in this state is community property.
Separate property of a married person includes all of the following:
- All property owned by the person before marriage.
- All property acquired by the person after marriage by gift, bequest, devise, or descent.
- The rents, issues, and profits of separate property.
There are also specific rules that pertain to student loans. In certain situations, a party may be entitled to reimbursement for payments made toward student loans.
Divorce involving a private medical practice
Some doctors work to become partners in or even sole proprietors of private medical practices. In this case, they are not just doctors but also business owners. Determining how private medical practices are characterized (whether community or separate property) and how they are valued are some of the most complicated financial issues in a divorce. This process can involve forensic accountants and investigating how the medical practice operates. These things can add time and cost to the case.
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements
A prenuptial (or postnuptial) agreement may reduce some of the stress of negotiations relating to financial issues in a divorce. If no such agreement is in place, the process may be more complex.
A prenuptial (or post-nuptial) agreement does not need to be drawn out and bitter as an amicable and mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached so long as each party:
- Maintains absolute transparency about their personal assets and liabilities
- Makes responsible financial decisions
- Chooses to put emotions aside and work cooperatively with the other party
When children are involved
Custody can be one of the most sensitive matters in a divorce. Determining the proper custodial arrangement for children between the children’s needs and each party’s preferences, beliefs, and views can be difficult.
The Court aims to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the children in determining the best interests of the children. It is important for each party to be able to effectively and persuasively present the family’s lives while the parties were together and also why each party’s proposal regarding parenting going forward is best for the children.
Experienced representation matters when facing divorce
The attorneys at Hoover Krepelka have the family law experience necessary to navigate all of the complex issues that arise in a medical divorce. Our resources and contacts evaluate all sides of your finances to ensure a solution that offers a future to both parties. If you are a medical professional or the spouse and are facing a divorce, we invite you to reach out to us today.
*The above is not meant to be legal advice, and every case is different. Feel free to reach out to us at Hoover Krepelka, LLP, if you have any questions. Information contained in this content and website should not be relied on as legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice on your specific situation.
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