Unique Issues for Doctors During Divorce
Posted by Ramos Law Group, PLLC | Divorce
Going through a divorce is never easy for any couple. The process can be even more difficult for physicians and their spouses. From navigating Texas state laws regarding the ownership of medical practices to the division of complex assets and debts to creating workable custody and visitation arrangement, there are many pitfalls that must be avoided.
At the Ramos Law Group, PLLC, we have considerable experience representing doctors and their spouses in divorce. Our top-rated attorneys want to make sure that you have the tools and information that you need to protect your legal rights. Here are five important issues that you and your partner need to consider:
Know How to Value and Protect a Medical Practice
If you or your spouse owns a medical practice in Texas, it is imperative that you consult with an attorney who can help you properly value that practice and protect it from damage during divorce. All business owners need a comprehensive valuation when getting divorced.
While valuing a business is often tricky, valuing a professional medical practice can be even more difficult. For a number of different reasons, medical practices are hard to put a precise dollar figure on. The fundamental value of the business is often based on intangible factors such as patient goodwill and a doctor’s abilities. It is in the interest of both parties to a divorce to ensure that the marital separation does not damage the long-term viability of a professional practice.
Division of Business Assets (Corporate Practice of Medicine Doctrine)
As Texas is a community property state, a party may have a valid claim to a share of the value of their spouse’s medical practice. However, with few exceptions, a non-practicing person cannot own a medical practice in Texas. It is simply against state regulations. Our state operates under the Corporate Practice of Medicine (CPM) doctrine. In most cases, this is dealt with by finding another way to compensate the non-medical professional spouse in a divorce settlement. Still, it is a unique issue that must be addressed as early on as possible in your divorce case.
All Outstanding Debt (including Medical School Loans) Must Be Considered
Division of debt is a contentious issue in many Texas divorces. Doctors are more likely to have a substantial amount of debt than many other high net worth people. As of 2020, the average medical graduate is carrying more than $200,000 in student loan debt. It is not uncommon for doctors to have far more medical school debt than that. As these loans were used for the benefit of the marriage, they should be considered when dividing property and assets. Make sure that you are aware of exactly how much debt you have as a couple, including all medical school loans.
Spousal Maintenance May Be Awarded
In Texas, spousal maintenance (alimony) is only awarded in certain divorce cases. That being said, spousal maintenance is more likely to be a relevant issue in cases involving physicians or other medical professionals. If you and your spouse were married for at least ten years and there is a significant gap in current/future earning capacity, then spousal support is more likely to be awarded. You need to consider spousal support as part of your broader divorce settlement. Consult with a divorce lawyer who has experience handling issues of spousal maintenance.
Long and Uneven Work Hours Can Create Custody/Visitation Complications
Finally, many doctors are required to work long, often uneven hours. If you are a parent, this type of grueling work schedule could potentially create some complications for your custody or visitation case. The best option is to try to work towards a mutually agreeable custody/visitation agreement that is best for the children and fits the needs of both parents. Of course, what exactly this will entail depends entirely on the specific circumstance of the case. An experienced Texas custody lawyer can help you find solutions, do what is right for your children, and protect your parental rights.
Get Help From a Divorce Lawyer Who Represents Doctors and Their Spouses
At the Ramos Law Group, PLLC, our Texas divorce attorneys have the skills and experience needed to effectively represent medical professionals and their spouses in divorce. We are zealous, solutions-focused advocates for our clients.
To set up a completely confidential, no obligation initial consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer, please contact us today. From our offices in Houston, Sugar Land, and The Woodlands, we represent medical professionals and their spouses throughout the region, including in Harris County, Fort Bend County, and Brazoria County.