A Harvard study found doctors are less likely to divorce than other professionals. While this is excellent news for those in happy marriages, it also means divorcing doctors will see fewer of their peers understand what they’re going through.
All divorces are painful and stressful. For doctors, who are often high earners, the financial burden could be heavier. If you’re a doctor considering ending a marriage, you need a qualified New Jersey divorce attorney in your corner.
Doctors and Divorce: Why You Need a Good Bergen County Divorce Lawyer
The average doctor in New Jersey makes at least $188,469 a year. Due to the larger-than-average salaries doctors typically earn, divorce can be a bit more complicated for a doctor.
Alimony comes into play in many divorces. In a marriage, when one person earns far more than another, the lower-income spouse comes to rely on the high earner’s income. Doctors tend to work long hours, which often means their spouse stays at home with the kids. In that scenario, the spouse may not have any income at all.
A judge may decide the high earner owes their ex-spouse alimony in such a case. The high earner is the “obligor,” and the other spouse is the “recipient.” The alimony payments are designed to support the recipient as they move on after the marriage.
New Jersey Alimony Law
In New Jersey, alimony law recently changed. It used to be that the obligor could deduct the alimony payments before taxes. The recipient would have to claim the payments as income, but they fell into a lower tax bracket because they made less money overall.
As of 2019, alimony payments are no longer tax-deductible on the part of the obligor. This means the obligor will have to pay taxes on all that money they’ll never be able to use. The government made this change to tax income at a higher rate due to the obligor’s high income.
This shows the importance of hiring an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney. Laws often change, and a lawyer will know how to work within the current law to secure the best outcome. Having a lawyer could help lock in a reasonable alimony payment rather than something outlandish.
Length of Alimony Payments
If the marriage lasted fewer than 20 years, the alimony payments would last for the length of the marriage or less. They can sometimes last longer in rare circumstances.
Some of the factors judges will examine when determining the length of alimony includes whether the recipient:
- Suffers from a chronic illness or disability.
- Missed out on career or educational opportunities to support the obligor or raise their children.
- Is dependent on the obligor for some other reason.
The court will also examine any other factors deemed relevant. In marriages that lasted 20 years or longer, the alimony payments will continue into the foreseeable future.
Other Factors for Doctors to Consider During Divorce
The divorce could affect other aspects of your life. This is something you may want to discuss with your Bergen County divorce lawyer as well as your financial adviser.
Beneficiary and Estate Planning
One of the first things you should do is change the paperwork to remove your ex as a beneficiary on your life insurance policy and will. Otherwise, they could inherit your assets if you were to, unfortunately, pass away before settling the divorce. If you don’t have another beneficiary, you can use a financial trust.
Becoming a single person again will also change the way the government taxes your estate. Married couples often get tax breaks. Talk to your lawyer about your options.
Dual-Access Accounts and Credit Cards
Your spouse likely had access to your accounts at some point in the marriage. Once you’re sure about the divorce, do some housekeeping on all your accounts. Even if you feel your ex is trustworthy, it’s still a smart idea to protect yourself.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself during the divorce. Ending a marriage isn’t easy. You might feel called to throw yourself into work, neglecting your mental health in the process. Please remember that there’s no shame in reaching out to friends or even seeing a therapist for support. You’ll better serve your patients when you’re taking good care of yourself.
Facing Divorce in New Jersey: Let the Experienced Professionals Help
Here at Sherwood, Johnson & Poles, we have over 25 years of legal experience. We’ve helped high-income doctors like yourself achieve great outcomes with their divorces. We proudly serve clients throughout New Jersey. No matter where in the state you’re located, we’re available to help.
Call us today at (888) 224-1218 to schedule a free consultation.