Gray divorce – one that takes place after age 50 – can be challenging for any man. You’ve had decades to build the life you wanted, and you may feel it’s all threatened by the ending of your marriage. Unfortunately, physicians face an even more challenging gray divorce than the average man.
Many doctors have substantial assets that must be divided equitably during the divorce. This can lead to expensive spousal maintenance payments, the early disbursement of retirement accounts, and other unpleasant financial consequences. Luckily, there are legal solutions that properly address each of these potential issues.
Here are a few of the most common concerns physicians have during their gray divorce – and what to do about them.
Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)
There are several factors the court considers in awarding spousal maintenance, including the length of the marriage and the earning potential of both spouses. Many gray divorces involve marriages that are over twenty years. This would be considered a long term marriage and permanent spousal maintenance will likely be awarded if it’s left up to the court. Furthermore, most physicians over 50 have a substantial salary, and their spouse may have given up a career to keep the home or raise their children.
When a couple divorces in their 30s, the spouse is generally required to return to the workforce and earn their own income. However, spouses in their 60s or 70s may not be able to leave retirement to go back to work. These factors all add up to a high probability of spousal maintenance in your gray divorce settlement. However, you may be able to offer an alternative, such as a lump sum, if you’re concerned about making monthly payments for years to come.
Older physicians who have been in the workforce for decades have most likely obtained a high prestige position at work, or they may be owners of their own successful practice. If you’re a divorcing physician in your 50s or 60s, your employment benefit packages may have had decades to appreciate in value. Your benefits are likely more valuable than those of a younger doctor who is in their thirties.
Employment benefits may include retirement accounts such as 403(b), 401(a), and 401(k) accounts and expense reimbursements such as car, cell phone, travel, meals, and entertainment. Remember, if you previously worked for a clinic or hospital but now own your own practice, your retirement accounts are still on the table during your divorce.
Of course, if you own your own practice, you’ll also need to have its value assessed to determine how much of a financial asset it is to your marriage. It is important to be aware of your employment benefits and retirement accounts because they may come into play when dividing assets or determining spousal maintenance.
Many physicians married or remarried later in life, which means premarital assets may be a factor in their gray divorce. Premarital assets are any assets you acquired prior to the marriage. They are generally off-limits during the divorce, with one notable exception. If you continued to invest in your premarital assets during the marriage, causing their value to increase, the amount they appreciated may be on the table for your divorce. For example, if you added to your classic car collection or remodeled your beach house while you were married, the added value must be equitably divided between the spouses.
Premarital assets often must be traced back to before your marriage so it’s clear they are exempt from the division of your assets. Your gray divorce attorney in New Jersey can likely recommend a tracing expert for this purpose.
Prenuptial agreements are another relatively common factor in gray divorces among physicians. If you’ve dedicated decades to amassing wealth through your career, you’re more likely to prefer having a prenuptial agreement drawn up prior to a later in life marriage. When that marriage ends in divorce, a prenuptial agreement can be a lifesaver. It’s quite difficult to argue against a prenuptial agreement in court, so you can feel secure in knowing your assets are protected during your divorce.
Gray Divorce Lawyers for Physicians in New Jersey
The Micklin Law Group’s attorneys focus on men’s and fathers’ rights in the family law courts of New Jersey. We’ve helped many physicians of all ages navigate divorce, and we understand a gray divorce can be particularly stressful for male physicians. To learn more about how we help our clients obtain favorable divorce settlements, schedule a consultation with an attorney today.