Nashville View

Divorce and Professional Degrees

Nashville Attorneys Experienced in Family Law Matters

When a married couple decides that one of them is going to pursue a professional degree, often the other is left to cover the household expenses in the meantime. If the couple decides to divorce, questions often arise as to what the value of that degree may be or who incurs any student debt. The Nashville divorce lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard PLLC assist spouses with considering all of the factors involved in valuing assets during a divorce. The valuation of a professional degree or practice may often become complicated. Factors to consider may include the years required to obtain such a degree or how long a spouse has owned their own practice.

Division of Professional Degrees and Practices During Divorce

Professional licenses and degrees in and of themselves cannot be valued and therefore are not subject to division. However, Tennessee follows the doctrine of equitable distribution when it comes to distributing marital property in a divorce. This means that a court will consider all of the legally relevant circumstances and factors unique to the couple, which may include the time and money spent in enhancing one spouse’s education and earning potential. Although a degree or license cannot be divided, a spouse’s professional practice, such as a law firm, accounting firm, or medical practice, may be subject to valuation and distribution. The assets contained in a professional practice, such as real estate or office equipment, may also be considered in determining an equitable distribution. Completing an accurate business valuation may involve sophisticated evidence and the assistance of experienced professionals, making it difficult to ascertain without the guidance of a seasoned divorce attorney.

When you are on the brink of a divorce, it is also important not to take actions that may be classified as dissipation of marital assets, including any asset liquidation or steps that counteract the ordinary course of business, such as remodeling a professional practice. The dissipation of marital assets aims to remove marital assets in order to benefit one spouse to the detriment of the other. When a debt was incurred by a couple due to the education involved in obtaining a professional degree, this also may be subject to division. Some issues to consider include who is likely to benefit from the debt and who has the better ability to make payments.

Seek Guidance from a Divorce Lawyer in Nashville

Determining who made sacrifices to further the career of a spouse may often get messy, especially when there is no way to put a number on a degree itself. The Nashville divorce attorneys at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard PLLC understand the sensitive and complicated nature of dividing relatively intangible assets during a divorce. We can help couples come to an agreement or, if necessary, fight for what is fair. Our property division lawyers represent people in Sylvan Park, West Meade, Bellevue, East Nashville, and other areas of Williamson and Davidson Counties in all types of family law matters. Contact us online or call us at 615-800-7096 to set up your appointment.