Getting a divorce is a major step in anyone’s life. When you decided to get married, you probably never thought about getting divorced. However, divorce has become a common occurrence in our society. The reality is that both marriage and divorce are common experiences. In the United States, about half of all marriages end in divorce. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher.
When you file for divorce, you and your spouse need to divide everything that you acquired during your marriage. Some obvious things that need to be divided include your house, car, savings account and other tangibles. But what about a spouse’s professional degree that was earned during the marriage or the future earning he or she gets from having a professional degree?
California Law Regarding Professional Degrees During a Divorce
California courts have ruled that a professional degree is not considered property upon dissolution of a marriage. This means that the professional degree belongs to the individual spouse who earned it and cannot be divided, inherited or gifted.
Upon divorce, the best thing that the non earner or non degreed spouse can do is to seek reimbursement for any expenses he or she may have contributed to the education of the professional spouse during their marriage. In 1985, the California Legislature passed the Sullivan Law. Under this law, if family income contributed to education that enhanced one spouse’s earning power, the other spouse can be reimbursed for half of the contribution, plus interest. These costs include tuition fees, fees, and books.
It should be noted that the law does not consider education to be property and does not provide for a sharing of future income. Rather, the law gives the judge the power to consider the potential of future income when awarding alimony.
Income Earned During Marriage
The non degree spouse is also entitled to any income obtained from the professional spouse during the time they were married. Such income is not any different than any other income during the course of marriage – it is considered community property and is split accordingly during divorce.
If you are in the process of filing for divorce or are planning to file for divorce, it is important that you consult with an experienced Central Valley divorce attorney. An aggressive lawyer can help protect your rights and make sure you get the full amount of compensation you are entitled to from your spouse upon the finalization of your divorce.
Call an Experienced Central Valley Divorce Attorney
For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with a Central Valley divorce attorney, please call Gurjit Srai (209) 323-5558 or (559) 449-1447, or complete our online form.