Can a CPA Designation Be Considered a Marital Asset in Divorce?

by Teo Spengler
A professional degree can be a marital asset.

A professional degree can be a marital asset.

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When a couple decides to end a marriage after one spouse has supported the other through graduate school, the divorce court gets the final say in how the professional degree is treated. Property division laws vary among jurisdictions, and some states treat the professional accounting degree as marital property, while others do not.

Marital Property

A few states, including New York, treat a professional degree as an asset belonging to both spouses. In these states, the court arrives at a value for the asset -- often, this is the amount that the spouse with the degree is likely to earn during his lifetime -- and the court awards the other spouse some part of that amount. Other states term the degree a marital asset and award the other spouse some amount in restitution for the direct and indirect efforts that spouse contributed toward obtaining the asset.

Not Marital Property

Other states refuse to recognize the professional degree as a marital asset on the basis that it is neither transferable nor has an objective market value. These courts either increase the alimony award to take the professional spouse's increased future earnings into account, or else they ignore the degree entirely in the divorce.