Austin Professional Divorce Lawyer 

Some unique issues come up when professionals divorce. Medical professionals, bankers, lawyers, and others often practice their professions in partnerships or limited liability companies. Establishing the value of these business interests, which is necessary for property division purposes, requires specific expertise.

Other factors that might be important in a professional divorce include maintaining confidentiality, ensuring the continued viability of the professional practice, and compensating the departing spouse for their role in the professional’s educational attainments and financial success. Depending on the circumstances, allegations of marital misconduct can sometimes impact the professional license of a spouse.

When you, your spouse, or both are licensed professionals, work with an Austin professional divorce lawyer. A knowledgeable divorce attorney has expertise in the law and a clear understanding of the regulations that apply to licensed professionals in the state.

Community Property and Equitable Distribution Apply in Divorce

According to Texas Family Code §3.002, all property either spouse acquired since the marriage is community property, and each has equal rights to it. The property a spouse had before marriage and any inheritances or gifts to them as an individual remain their separate property and are not subject to division in a divorce.

Courts presume all property is community property unless a spouse provides clear evidence it should be treated as separate. When one spouse had a professional practice on the date of marriage, the other spouse may not have a community property interest in the practice. However, when one spouse supported the other while they obtained their professional credentials or when the professional was married when they started their practice, the value of the spouse’s practice is likely community property that must be shared with the other spouse.

Once the community property is identified, it must be divided equitably. Courts start with the assumption that each spouse is entitled to an equal share but could hear evidence from an Austin professional divorce lawyer that would indicate one spouse is deserving of more than half.

Assessing the Value of the Professional Practice 

In most divorces involving professionals, the value of the professional practice must be determined. Even when the practice itself is not community property, its increase in value throughout the marriage likely is community property and must be divided.

Valuing a professional practice is a specialized endeavor. It requires the appraiser to assess:

  • The value of intellectual property
  • The value of the practice’s client or patient list
  • Any pension rights the professional has through the practice
  • The fair market value of the practice and its likely future value
  • The value of tangible property, such as medical equipment and office space
  • Goodwill, which encompasses factors like reputation, referrals, and legacy value

Obtaining an accurate valuation is essential because of the nature of professional practices. In most cases, the laws regulating the profession bar someone who does not have a license to practice that profession from owning a practice. A doctor, lawyer, or CPA cannot simply turn over ownership of a portion of their business to a spouse who does not have a license. Instead, the professional spouse would turn over other property equal to that spouse’s interest.

Negotiated Settlements Are Especially Beneficial for Professionals

A professional’s reputation in the community is an invaluable tool for securing referrals and other business opportunities. An acrimonious divorce can damage that reputation and result in fewer opportunities. This is a particular danger when a spouse alleges fault-based grounds, which could impact the professional’s licensing status, depending on the grounds alleged.

Further, divorce requires a legal untangling of a couple’s financial affairs. This information is often sensitive, and most people prefer to keep it private.

Professionals and their spouses can ensure confidentiality around their private affairs by settling their divorce out of court. Mediation, collaborative divorce, and negotiations conducted by the parties’ legal representatives can result in a private agreement that a court will incorporate into a divorce decree. An Austin attorney with experience handling professional divorces is skilled at negotiation but can take a case to court should it become necessary.

Work With a Divorce Attorney in Austin When You or Your Spouse Are Licensed Professionals

A divorce for couples where one or both spouses have a professional practice can be far more complex than for other business owners. Work with an attorney at Kimbrough Legal with the knowledge and skills to represent professionals and their spouses in divorce proceedings effectively.

Contact an Austin professional divorce lawyer as soon as you begin considering a divorce. They can explain the law, ensure you know what to expect, and work to protect your professional reputation and business.