You, or your spouse, worked hard to receive a professional degree, and now you are looking at divorce. What is that degree worth? What rights does your spouse have in relation to that degree?
This issue comes up a lot when a couple marry before, or during the time, one of them is pursuing a professional or advanced degree. The stereotypical story of the wife putting her husband through medical school only to face a divorce once he gets his degree and is out practicing. But that is not the only time it happens, I have seen this in dentistry, the military, and other professional situations.
The degree itself is personal to the recipient and cannot be considered marital property. The same goes for professional “good will” associated with a sole practitioner’s professional work. Nor can it be used to award the other spouse to directly share in the benefits of the professional degree or license.
But, the financial aspects change is the professional goes into practice with a group or company. And, the current earning ability of the professional would be treated similarly to earned income for purposes of child support and alimony.
Even though this would appear to be a well-established policy, I have seen litigation involving these issues. So, if you hold, or are earning, a professional degree and going through a divorce, contact an experienced family law attorney.