What happens when lawyers divorce?

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2023 | Family Law |

Divorce is never easy, but it can be especially difficult for lawyers. Virginia lawyers are often involved in high-conflict, high-stakes and high-profile cases that can affect their personal and professional lives. Moreover, lawyers have complex financial situations that involve multiple income streams, large assets, debts and tax implications. This means that divorcing lawyers face challenges and considerations that others may not face when divorcing in Virginia.

Litigation, of course

One of the main challenges for lawyers divorcing is the potential for litigation. Lawyers are trained to advocate for their clients and to protect their interests in court. However, when lawyers become the parties in a divorce case, they may find it hard to detach themselves from their emotions and to negotiate with their spouses in a cooperative and respectful manner. Litigation can be costly, time-consuming and stressful for both parties and their children. It can also damage the reputation and credibility of the lawyers involved. Therefore, lawyers divorcing should consider alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or collaborative law, that can help them resolve their issues amicably and privately.

Assets and debts

Another challenge for lawyers divorcing is the division of assets and debts. Lawyers may have accumulated a large number of assets during their marriage, such as real estate, retirement accounts, investments, business interests, professional licenses and goodwill. They may also have incurred significant debts, such as student loans, mortgages, credit cards and legal fees.

Virginia is an equitable distribution state, which means that the court will divide the marital property and debts according to what is fair and reasonable under the circumstances. However, determining what is marital and what is separate property can be complicated and contentious for lawyers divorcing.

For example, if one spouse contributed to the other spouse’s education or career advancement during the marriage, they may be entitled to a share of the enhanced earning capacity or goodwill of the other spouse. Likewise, if one spouse used marital funds to pay off their premarital debts or to invest in their separate property, they may have commingled or transmuted their assets and debts.

Spousal support and child support

A third challenge for lawyers divorcing is the determination of spousal and child support. Lawyers may have multiple income streams from different sources, such as salaries, bonuses, commissions, fees, dividends, royalties and distributions. They may also have variable or fluctuating income, depending on their caseloads, billable hours, contingency fees and business profits. These factors can make it difficult to calculate the gross income of each spouse for the purposes of spousal support and child support.