Chances are that when you were pursuing your professional degree or supporting your spouse while they pursued theirs, you weren’t thinking about how the value of that professional degree could impact the terms of your divorce if you ever found yourself navigating the end of your marriage. But the truth is a professional degree can affect a divorce in Alabama in terms of how much alimony or child support you will pay or receive or how your property may be divided, in addition to bringing up a whole host of other issues.
Whether you are a doctor, dentist, engineer, computer scientist, or another educated professional, it is critical you consult with a lawyer who is well-versed in professional divorces. At Charlotte Christian Law, our Huntsville team of lawyers are skilled in representing all types of professionals in their divorces. Reach out to us today to discuss the details of yours.
What Is A Professional Degree Worth In An Alabama Divorce?
Determining what a professional degree is worth is not a straightforward analysis. To come up with a value, an Alabama court typically looks to what an individual would earn in the same field if they have a professional degree versus how much they would make without one. As part of analyzing the value of a professional degree, a judge would want to know how much others holding the same degree in the same area earn. Again, the analysis is not scientific, given that earnings can range in any given field of work.
Courts will consider numerous factors when assigning how much value a professional degree may hold in the marketplace. Those include what skills are specific to the industry versus what that professional holds, a comparison of the occupation under consideration to others, and how employable the person holding the degree is based on how long the individual has worked in their field, whether they have been working continuously, current market conditions, and other factors the court deems relevant to its evaluation. A court may call on a vocational specialist for assistance completing a full-scale analysis.
Due to the multitude of factors a court must consider in determining a professional degree’s worth, it is wise to have the support of counsel that is knowledgeable about professional divorces and how to value them. Because a court has a lot of discretion about interpreting and assessing a professional degree, you want to make sure you communicate to the court or opposing counsel every relevant detail concerning your case. We can assist. Call our team of lawyers about your professional divorce today.
What If You Supported Your Spouse’s Pursuit Of A Professional Degree?
Sometimes it is the case that you supported your spouse as they pursued their professional degree to your own detriment. You may have put off your schooling so you could work, used separate funds to help pay for your spouse’s education, or took a step back from your career to care for your children while your spouse pursued their degree and, later, career.
Given that Alabama is an equitable distribution state, a Huntsville court will consider the non-professional spouse’s contribution to their spouse’s professional degree. A court may seek to compensate the non-professional spouse through alimony and the allocation of the couple’s marital property. Again, because courts have a lot of discretion when valuing professional degrees, you will want to make sure the judge knows every detail of your situation before they render their decision or that your opposing counsel does during settlement negotiations.
What Happens To Students Loan Debt Incurred As A Result Of Pursuing A Professional Degree?
Because Alabama is an equitable distribution state, debts and assets will be distributed how a court determines is fair between divorcing spouses. Fair does not, however, mean equal.
Whether debt incurred as a result of pursuing a professional degree, such as student loan debt, will be deemed marital or separate may turn on whether the degree is as marital or separate property. If a professional degree is not to be considered marital property, likely the debt incurred as a result of it will not be either. That said, you want to present your best case when a court is making such determinations, or you are negotiating a settlement with your spouse. The lawyers on our Huntsville team are well-versed in this area and are ready to assist.
A Huntsville, Alabama Lawyer Can Help Value A Professional Degree In Your Divorce?
A professional degree costs a lot to pursue and can potentially represent a lot of money through earnings during a lifetime. Having a lawyer at your side who understands all of the issues surrounding professional degrees is a fundamental piece of any divorce negotiation. Our team of attorneys will work diligently on your behalf to achieve the best outcome in your professional divorce. Reach out to our Huntsville team today to get started.