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Family Law Becomes Complicated when Doctors in Texas Divorce

It takes years of schooling and hard work to become a doctor in Texas. Oftentimes, if the doctor is married, they may say that they could never get through medical school without the support of their spouse. Many times, when one spouse is going to medical school, the other spouse will do what it takes to support their spouse in this endeavor, even if it means giving up their own schooling and job opportunities. Then, once a spouse earns their medical degree and starts working, the spouse who had supported them during medical school will then stay at home to care for the family.

However, things are not always so rosy. For one reason or another, a doctor or their spouse may decide to divorce. This raises the question of what compensation the spouse of the doctor should receive for contributing to the doctor's successful and profitable career?

Texas is a community property state. However, this doesn't mean that all the couple's assets will be split directly down the middle. Under Texas law, when a couple is dividing their assets in a divorce, this needs to be done in a way that is "fair, just and equitable." Therefore, the fact that the supporting spouse may have given up their own career for the sake of the doctor spouse's career may be taken into account.

Then, there is the issue of alimony. Usually, once the spouse who supported the doctor's career files for dissolution, they will pursue a temporary spousal support order. The spouse seeking support is usually asking for enough support to allow them to maintain a lifestyle similar to the one they enjoyed while married. The doctor spouse, on the other hand, may want temporary spousal support to start at one amount, but then go down as time goes by, to encourage the supporting spouse to get a job that will allow them to support themselves.

As this shows, there are many factors that go into determining property division and spousal support in a high value divorce where one spouse gave up their job opportunities to support the career of the other spouse. This is a complicated family law manner, and each person's situation is unique. Therefore, it is important that spouses in such situations understand how the laws apply to the facts of their case, so they can make sound decisions.

Source: mdmag.com, "One Spouse Is a Physician; The Other Is Not," Douglas R. York, Nov. 10, 2017

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