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Lawyer Divorce: Legal Insights and Considerations

by | Jul 9, 2024 | Firm News

Lawyer Divorce: Legal Insights and Considerations

As an attorney yourself, you may understand some of the complications inherent to divorce. It may be more complicated than you think. You don’t know what you don’t know. Your insider knowledge, however, will not protect you from the financial and emotional challenges of your own divorce. In fact, as a legal professional, you can face additional difficulties related to property division and alimony. Being a lawyer doesn’t mean that you don’t need legal representation in the face of a divorce, and an experienced Orange County divorce attorney is standing by to help.

Property Division in an Orange County Divorce

In an Orange County divorce, the assets you acquire during your marriage are community property, and you and your spouse share ownership equally. Separate property, on the other hand, refers to all the following:

  • Assets that either of you owned prior to marriage and kept separate throughout
  • Gifts or inheritances that either of you received in your name alone during the marriage
  • Purchases made with separate funds during the marriage
  • Assets acquired with separate earnings after the date of separation

Separate assets remain the separate property of the original owner. In the event of divorce, community property is usually divided evenly between spouses. It is important to note, however, complex issues can arise relative to the valuation of professional practices.

If You Earned Your Law Degree While Married

Orange County courts do not classify professional degrees as community property, which means they are not addressed as such in a divorce. If you earned your law degree during your marriage, in other words, it belongs to you alone and can’t be divided.

Your divorcing spouse may be able to seek reimbursement for any community assets that were used to cover or contribute to your education – in the form of tuition, fees, books, supplies, and more. Their share translates to half of the community assets used, plus potential interest. Additionally, the court has the discretion to consider your increased earning power in relation to alimony – or spousal support.

The division of marital assets is a complex legal matter in the best of times, but if you are a private practice lawyer, it’s likely to be more so. Proceed with all due caution and with a seasoned divorce attorney in your corner for your Orange County divorce.

Your Law Practice

Practices that fall into several categories including, but not limited to, the following categories:

  • Law practices
  • Dental practices
  • Accounting practices
  • Medical practices

The fact is that your law practice will be valued in the division of the community property in a divorce. While your legal practice is clearly an asset, it can’t be divided in any practical sense, and as a result, the matter must be addressed in terms of its value.

Valuation of a Law Practice in an Orange County Divorce

First, a value will need to be attached to your law practice. Obtaining a valuation that you and your divorcing spouse can both agree to can be exceptionally challenging in and of itself. The determination of the value of a practice can be the most contentious part of a divorce.

Law Practice Goodwill

In addition to your practice’s tangible assets, there is also the matter of goodwill to consider. This refers to its value in relation to the expectancy of ongoing client patronage. Goodwill, in other words, is based on expected future earnings that relate to the business’s name, brand, client loyalty, reputation, and similar factors. This goodwill splits into two separate categories that include personal goodwill, which refers to your own professional goodwill, and enterprise goodwill, which refers to your firm’s commercial goodwill.

The enterprise portion of your law practice is subject to equitable distribution, but your personal goodwill may not be. The matter is nuanced, and working closely with an experienced divorce attorney who has a wealth of experience successfully handling cases involving complex property division is the surest means of protecting your financial rights in an Orange County divorce.

Spousal Support

Permanent spousal support refers to spousal support paid after entry of the judgment, that are made by one spouse to the other after the divorce is finalized. These payments are intended to address any financial discrepancies triggered by the divorce. When one spouse owns a law practice, it not only affects property division but can also play a direct role in the matter of spousal support. In fact, all the following are taken into consideration in relation to spousal support determinations:

  • The contributions the recipient made to the other’s education and professional licensure
  • The standard of living achieved during the marriage
  • Each spouse’s earning capacity, including how supporting the other’s education, professional development, and career affected the recipient’s earning power
  • Each spouse’s debts and assets, including separate assets
  • The length of the marriage
  • The recipient’s ability to obtain gainful employment without affecting the best interests of minor children
  • Each spouse’s age and overall mental and physical health
  • The tax implications of the proposed property division

Consult with an Experienced Orange County Divorce Attorney Today

If you are a lawyer who is facing a divorce, your practice – which you’ve worked so hard to grow and develop – is of considerable concern. The savvy Orange County divorce attorneys at Minyard Morris appreciate the complexity of your situation and are committed to harnessing the full power of our imposing experience and legal skill in pursuit of a favorable case resolution that supports your financial rights. If results matter, your selection of a divorce lawyer matters. Call us at 949-724-1111 for more information.