When doctors get a divorce, there are be some unique concerns that can arise, especially if the doctor had their own practice or shared one with their spouse.
Unique Considerations When Doctors Divorce
Divorces involving physicians revolve around the same guidelines as a typical divorce. However, there are a few areas that should be of special concern.
For example, doctors getting a divorce should consider the following:
- Do you have student loans? A large portion of physicians have substantial student loan debt. Typically, they cannot pay it off for years after they are fully licensed and practicing medicine. If it were acquired prior to the marriage, the debt would most likely be considered separate debt. However, that isn't always the case, and it may be classified differently depending on the case.
- Is the practice considered marital property? Property acquired prior to marriage is typically in most cases considered personal property, which means it is not subject to equitable distribution in a divorce. While it may be considered separate, other influences can change it into marital property, which the court can then divide equitably. For example, if the practice grew a substantial amount while the couple was married, and the other spouse supported the marriage in other ways, it might be considered marital property. If the practice is determined to be marital property, an appraisal will need to take place to determine the practice's value. Dividing a medical practice during a divorce can then impact the physician's amount of shares in the practice.
- Are there any pending liabilities for the physician spouse? If the physician spouse has medical malpractice claims against them, it can impact divorce and other family law matters like child custody and alimony. A medical malpractice claim is a civil claim made against a physician after a dispute over the care the patient received. The patient may file a medical malpractice claim against the medical practice/doctor if they believe they received improper care like a medical mistake or misdiagnosis.
- Will alimony be awarded? In general, alimony is not always awarded in a New Jersey divorce, especially in cases where the couple has not been married for a long time. However, with doctors, the case may be different. If the non-physician spouse supported the other spouse while they were in medical school, there could be an argument that the sacrifices they made to support the physician spouse warrant the need for alimony.
If you have questions about the specifics of your New Jersey divorce, our Bergen County divorce attorneys are here to help.
Call Sherwood, Johnson & Poles today at (888) 224-1218 to speak to our experienced divorce lawyers.