Doctors are in the business of saving lives. That’s what makes their profession so unique and noble. But sometimes the demands of their profession can take a toll on their personal life. The question arises what happens if a doctor decides to divorce their spouse in Massachusetts? The already complex process of divorce can get even more complicated if one or both parties are physicians. Here are a few situations that can make their divorce more intricate than usual:
- If the non-physician spouse contributed financially during the marriage
- The income potential of the physician spouse(s) is higher
- The couple has a joint private medical practice
If you are a doctor with a private practice, and you have decided to end the marriage, any mistake on your part during the divorce proceedings can adversely impact your practice. Talking to Jay Davis, a dedicated divorce attorney in Massachusetts could be the right first step to make sure your rights are fully protected. To set up a free consultation with Jay, give us a call at 617-221-3548 or simply leave us a message online.
If One or Both of You Are Doctors
Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state, which means the court will divide the income and property equitably between the parties. Please note that “equitable” doesn’t necessarily mean a 50-50 split; instead, think of it as a “fair” division. The judge may order one party to use their separate property to make the settlement fair to both parties.
So, if only one spouse is a physician and practice owner, they may be able to retain the practice in the divorce as long as there are other marital assets that have equivalent value, like the family house, and can be given to the non-physician spouse.
If both spouses are doctors and have a joint private practice, the court is most likely to divide the practice equally between the two spouses. If this is your situation and both of you decide to continue running your practice jointly even after the divorce, you can avoid the practice division.
However, if the divorce is not amicable and neither of you want to work together under one roof after the divorce, one spouse may have to buy out the other spouse’s share in the practice.
Valuation of the Medical Practice in a Massachusetts Divorce
It is easy to determine the value of cash, jewelry, retirement funds, family home, and other marital assets to divide them equitably. However, it’s much harder to calculate the value of a medical practice.
Depending on your case, the valuation of your practice may involve determining the fair market value of the tangible factors such as real estate, furnishings, equipment, and supplies. In addition, the value of your practice’s “goodwill” as well as accounts receivable can also be taken into account.
Goodwill means the value of a medical practice above and beyond the accounts receivable and hard assets; it’s the intangible qualities. Once the practice has been precisely valued, your spouse will be awarded their share of this value. Whether the goodwill of the practice counts as marital property or not is a significant factor and it varies from case to case.
To get a more accurate picture of what your practice’s goodwill is and whether or not it will be subject to equitable distribution, talk to Jay Davis who has helped multiple physicians and medical professionals get through a divorce quickly and with dignity. Even if you’re looking for just a bit of legal advice (free of charge), Jay will be happy to take your call at 617-221-3548 or you can just contact us online.
Medical School Loans in a Massachusetts Divorce
Doctors are more likely to have a significant amount of debt than anyone else. As of 2020, the average medical graduate is estimated to have more than $200,000 in student loan debt.
Since these loans were used for the advancement of a spouse, and thus, the benefit of the marriage as a whole, they are usually considered during the division of assets and debts. It’s important to be aware of exactly how much debt you have, personally and as a couple, including the education loans.
Child Custody and Visitation Aspects
Most doctors work long, uneven hours due to a grueling work schedule. If you’re a doctor and a parent, your work hours can lead to some complications when it comes to child custody. It’s recommended to try to work towards a custody and visitation agreement that’s mutually agreeable and is best for the children.
If you and your spouse can’t see eye to eye on this, talking to a divorce attorney who has extensive experience in child custody matters will help protect your parental rights.
In Massachusetts, a professional degree and a professional license cannot be divided in a divorce. However, if one spouse helped the other attain their medical degree, the court may reimburse the supporting spouse for their time and money investment.
This is known as reimbursement alimony, and it’s given when the judge concludes that the sacrifice of one spouse allowed the other spouse to advance in their career and reap financial benefits. The amount of this alimony is usually based on the unrealized future financial potential of the sacrificing spouse.
Trusted Divorce Attorney for Doctors and Their Spouses
When one of the spouses in a divorce is a physician, they may earn a much higher income than their spouse, and if their divorce proceedings are not handled with care, it can lead to an unjust division of property.
Each case is different, so it’s best to discuss all of these issues with a divorce attorney who has a proven track record of success. Jay Davis is considered an attorney’s attorney among his peers in Massachusetts due to his work with high net worth and professional clients including doctors, surgeons, attorneys, and investment bankers.
Jay understands that navigating the intricacies of divorce for doctors requires experience and skills in negotiating a reasonable division of property and assessing high-value assets. He and his team at Davis Law Group are well-versed in tackling complex marriage dissolution cases, and would be glad to give you a free, no-obligation consultation. Call us at 617-221-3548 or write to us online.
James H. (Jay) Davis III
Thank you for reading. Need to talk? 617-221-3548