It is intuitive that a divorce after one year looks different from a divorce after ten years. It follows that a divorce after twenty or thirty years can be different by a greater degree. Here are three ways divorces can vary based on the length of the marriage:
- Spousal Maintenance: If one party is the sole breadwinner (or the main breadwinner), the longer the marriage is increases the likelihood that spousal maintenance will be ordered. It also often extends the duration of the spousal maintenance. On the other hand, if a marriage only lasted one year, it is unlikely that the economically disadvantaged spouse has the same level of reliance on the other party, and thus may not be awarded maintenance.
- Retirement Assets: A longer marriage usually involves more retirement assets. These assets need to be awarded to either one party, the other party, or divided between the parties. Longer marriages usually mean that more of the retirement assets go to the party with the lower ability to recoup the losses caused by the divorce. If the parties are already retired, there are other issues that must be addressed.
- Status of the Parties: In short term marriages, the parties’ statuses often don’t change much from the time of the marriage to the time of the dissolution. In mid-length marriages, community assets and debts are often acquired, and kids have often been added to the equation. In long-term marriages there is often an abundance of community assets and debts, and less time for the parties to replace assets lost during dissolution.
The length of a marriage can have other implications too. Sometimes aging brings on health issues that can complicate dissolution issues. Sometimes people in mid-length marriages want to get support to get a educational degree or accreditation. In short-term marriages sometimes a home has been purchased, but very little equity has been acquired and selling the house might be tough, but keeping the house might be impossible with only one income paying for it.
While divorces change based on the length of the marriage, it is always important to find an attorney that runs a client-centered practice. This allows the attorney to get to know you, learn about your marriage, and help you plan for your future after divorce.