Doctor is Not Allowed to Consider His Salary as Part of Prenuptial

This is a divorce case from Georgia, in the marriage of Steis v. Steis. This is an interesting case as it relates to a second marriage and a prenuptial agreement. The issues in this case relate to whether the Husband’s salary and all derived bank account and investment accounts were considered as separate accounts under a prenuptial agreement.

The Husband, Dr. Steis, an oncologist, and Wife were married in 2000. The parties executed a pre-nuptial agreement as both parties had been married before. The Husband listed accounts and a nine percent interest in a medical group. The Wife listed a townhome and other miscellaneous assets.

The Husband sold his interest in the medical group shortly after the Wife filed for divorce for $800,000. The Husband filed a motion with the Court to grant him a partial summary judgment. The Husband asked the trial court to consider his interest in the medical group, all of his salary, $500,000 per year, and investment accounts as “separate property” and not subject to division. The Husband relied on the fact that all of the assets were derived from his medical practice and thus belonged to him.

The Wife did not dispute that the nine percent interest in the medical group belonged to the Husband. The Wife did however, object to the Husband asking the court to consider his salary, investment accounts and interest in his medical practice as non-martial assets.

The trial court ruled in favor of the Wife and denied the Husband’s claim for a partial summary judgment as to his assets. The Husband appealed and the Georgia Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Wife as to the issue of partial summary judgment only.

The Court held that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the Husband’s salary was “separate property”. Also, the Court held that all of the investment accounts acquired after the marriage were derived from the Husband’s salary and titled in the parties’ names.

It is not at all unusual for people to have a prenuptial agreement, especially if it is a second marriage and have acquired a number of assets prior to a marriage. In fact, it is a good practice to have a pre-nuptial agreement in place to protect yourself in the event the marriage does not last. Also, I encourage all young professionals to consider a pre-nuptial as well.

I know that the thought of a pre-nuptial agreement does not sound romantic, and you might say that you intend on staying together forever. However, divorce rates are generally 50% so you might thank your lawyer seven to ten years later for the savings in legal fees and the emotional distress a divorce may have on you.

I tell clients that there is no diet quite like “trauma trim”, which I relate to the stress of going through a divorce. Both parties have lawyers that are billing at hourly rates, and the parties want to resolve their conflicts and move forward. The one positive aspect after a divorce is finalized is that I tell clients they get a fresh start and a new perspective on life. Life will never be the same, but it can be better. Call my office if you need assistance in preparing a pre-nuptial agreement.

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