When people think about divorce as a doctor the first thought that likely comes to their mind is the money aspects have a case. Doctors provide many heroic services for our community but when it’s all said and done, I think most people consider the role of a doctor in terms of their income more than anything else. Being financially stable and being able to translate those hard-earned skills into a great income is one of the benefits of being a physician. However, it can also be one of the most difficult aspects of a physician’s life during a divorce.
If you are a physician who is reading this blog post and are either considering a divorce or have had a divorce filed against you then you have come to the right place. There are many considerations, but you need to make it this time both for yourself and for your family. Foremost among them is how you are going to divide the Community property up that is owned both by you and your spouse. What some doctors do not realize, just as most people, is that the property acquired during your marriage for the most part belongs equally to you and your spouse. It does not matter whose income was utilized to purchase the property. So long as it was purchased during the marriage it is Community property and is therefore divisible in your divorce with no advantages being given away to you or your spouse.
Community property basics for doctors
As a position come to like you don’t need me to tell you that some subjects are more complicated than they appear at first period Community property here’s an example of a subject that at first appears rather simply put is complex. Things begin looking simply when you consider that the presumption in a Texas divorce is that all property owned by you and your spouse at the time of your divorce is community property. If either you or your spouse wants to contend that certain property belongs in either of your separate estates then it is up to you, if challenged by the opposing spouse to be able to prove that this is the case.
Property owned before your marriage by either you or your spouse is separate property. This is important from the standpoint of understanding that not all the property owned by the two of you will be divisible in your divorce. However, depending upon the length of your marriage it could be that most property the two of you are only will be divisible. However, if you owned real estate, personal property, or even portions of investment in retirement accounts before your marriage then you should be prepared to understand that those types of property would not be divisible in the divorce. Additionally, indeed gifts made specifically to you or your spouse from the marriage or money inherited during your marriage from a relative also count as separate property. It would be wise to have the receipts and proof of how you came to own the property ready to go in case your spouse challenges you on this separate property designation.
However, in most cases, the property that you own will be classified as Community property. It doesn’t matter if you used your large physician’s income to purchase the property and your spouse has been a stay-at-home parent. That house, vehicle, vacation home, or other asset is classified just as much as your spouse’s property as yours.
The question for you as a physician is how the property in your life will ultimately the divided. This is the $1,000,000 question that, no pun intended, must be answered. To get a better idea about how your property is likely to be divided in a divorce scenario I would recommend that you speak with an experienced family law attorney with the law office Brian Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys can help guide you during this process to assist you in learning more about the division of community estate as well as the factors that a family court judge would likely consider when dividing up property.
One thing to note on this subject is that you and your spells are more likely than not going to be the ones who ultimately determine how your property will be divided. It is a misnomer and a myth, in general, to believe that a family court judge will decide your divorce. Statistically speaking it is much more likely that you and your spouse will divide your property either in an informal settlement negotiation or more likely in mediation. This allows the two of you to play a central role in dividing up your estate. So, the purpose of today’s blog post is to provide you with some degree of context for learning how a family court judge would consider how to divide up your property. The more likely scenario, however, is that you and your spouse play a more direct role than the family court judge.
Dividing up property based on parenting status
One of the important factors when it comes to dividing up Community property, at least in the eyes of family court judges, is regarding which parent is the primary caretaker of the children. The thought here is that the parent who has the primary obligation to take care of the children both has a greater need for property and assets daily but also will be receiving child support. This is probably the most complex of all these factors that we will be discussing today so I wanted to take some time to be able to talk them over with you so that you can understand better what you may be looking at when it comes to dividing up your community estate.
It’s no secret that doctors tend to have h schedules that are more hectic than most people. As a physician, you may work in emergency medicine, own your medical practice, or even beyond call for surgeries at any hour of the day. As a result, your schedule requires a great deal of flexibility. While there is nothing wrong with having a job schedule like this it does not necessarily make it conducive for you to be the parent who cares for your children before and after school and take some to sporting events on the weekends. That role may be more ably filled by her spouse at least in this time in your life.
You may be asking yourself how this discussion has anything to do with how your community estate will be divided up. after all, aren’t these topics that are related to raising your children and their day-to-day life? This would have nothing to do with your property, income, and how a judge would likely divide up your community estate. However, there is a direct relationship between how your community states will be divided up and your role as a provider for your family. Here is how a family court judge could look at your situation and use your parenting roles to determine how Community property should be divided.
For one, the spouse who is going to become the primary caretaker of the children will also be receiving child support. The fact that your spouse is going to receive child support in other situations could later judge you to be more cautious about how he or she divides up your community estate. The thought is that because your spouse is receiving child support that he or she may not then also need to receive a disproportionate share of the community estate.
However, while this may be true when it comes to things like spousal maintenance or a division of your bank account, there are aspects of your community estate where your spouse becomes the primary caretaker figure to play a central role in the process. This discussion should begin with your family home and how it will be considered in the context of your divorce case. I am going to make some assumptions to outline some general points that I think will apply to many of you reading this blog post. However, remember that I have no specific knowledge of your case, in that the information we provide is intended for a general audience.
The family home in a physician divorce
The family home not only represents the center of your life in terms of housing your family and storing many memories for your family, but it is also important from the standpoint of it being a rather large percentage of your net worth and an investment in the sense that you and your spouse have likely poured some money into making improvements after purchasing the home. Not only that, but the family home contains most if not all your personal property that may also be divisible in the divorce. The decision about what happens with the family home in your divorce will be an important one.
When it comes to the family house one of the major considerations that need to be made is regarding the mortgage on the home. Specifically, you and your spouse will need to look at the finances of the house regarding whether money is owed on the mortgage. this is an important consideration because whether your spouse can remain in the house after the marriage depends upon their income, the size of the mortgage, and whether or not the house fits their needs in post-divorce life. Many people see the house says one of the big prizes in a divorce, but it can become a financial anchor for you and your spouse if the subject is not thought through.
For instance, if your spouse is the primary caretaker for your children after the divorce then he or she may want to remain in the family house to give the kids some consistency and stability in their lives during a time where so much of what they’ve become accustomed to as far as your home life is in flux. For that reason, you may want to consider a situation where you all think clearly about what your options are regarding the house and whether your parent is in a position to be able to remain in the house after the divorce.
Consider that the mortgage payment has likely been paid out of your income. If that’s the case, then your spouse may not be able to take on the responsibilities of paying the mortgage even if he or she has the best of intentions to do so. another issue to consider regarding the mortgage is whose name the loan is in. if the loan is in both your name and your spouse’s name then you have the issue of needing to refinance the loan to have your name removed. This is not a given and we put you in a position where your name remains on a loan for a home that you do not officially own. To say this is undesirable is to make an understatement.
there are methods to employ in this situation if your spouse is in a financial position to be able to remain in the home. For instance, a deed of trust to secure assumption can be drafted where you could be insulated somewhat from the financial implications of remaining on a home loan for a house that you do not own. Essentially, you would be able to foreclose upon your spouse if he or she is not able to pay the mortgage. In that case, you could position to take over the mortgage payments yourself and recoup costs in the future against your ex-spouse. this is not necessarily the most ideal circumstance, but it is better than having no protection at all. If this is a situation that is relevant to your case, then you absolutely should consider having a date of trust to secure the assumption be part of the case.
If it is decided by you and your spouse that the family home should be sold, then your option in that regard would be to figure out the logistics of selling the home and the percentage of the equity in the home that would go to both of you. this can require some degree of negotiation and working together to determine a resolution that is palatable to both of you. Your plans as far as living circumstances after the divorce may factor into this discussion period, for instance, if your spouse wants to immediately purchase a home for herself and the children then she may need more upfront money to make a down payment on a home or pay for the upfront costs associated with purchasing the house. Determining a realtor, price to sell the home, and things of this nature must all be discussed within the divorce context so that no issues are left remaining after the divorce.
What about spousal maintenance?
For most people, spousal maintenance is a relatively new topic if only because for the most part we know spousal maintenance by its more commonly used name of alimony. Spousal maintenance is a payment made by you to your spouse to help him or she meet their minimum basic and reasonable needs after the divorce. How spousal maintenance is determined in your divorce will be a different discussion than how your community property is divided.
Historically, Texas divorce courts are not overly ambitious when it comes to making partial maintenance awards unless there had been family violence in the marriage. However, in recent years courts have begun to change their tune in this regard as we begin to see more judges award spousal maintenance in divorce cases. spousal maintenance is more likely to be a factor in your divorce if your spouse can establish that he or she cannot provide for their well-being due to a physical or mental disability. This physical or mental disability would need to be sufficient to keep him or her from entering the workplace.
Another factor to consider in this regard would be if your spouse will be the primary caretaker for one of your children who has a disability themselves. The same type of stock prices would go into play for this situation as we saw that would apply to your spouse if he or she had a disability. And the ability to work may result in a family court judge being more agreeable to awarding spousal maintenance after the divorce.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.