long-term marriages and divorce

Do Long-Term Marriages Complicate the Divorce Process?

Goldberg JonesDivorce, Featured Content 4 Comments

Over the course of a marriage, two lives become intertwined. The longer the marriage, the more interwoven they become. Like others, long-term marriages end for a variety of reasons. As the years go by, however, a number of unique divorce issues arise. What should you look out for?

When it comes to divorce, shorter marriages are understandably usually much more straightforward. In the case of ending longer marriages, it’s much more complex as there’s often a great deal to unravel.

How Do Long-Term Marriages Affect Divorce?

As we said, people end long-term marriages for countless reasons. Gray divorce, divorce over the age of 50, has been on the rise over recent decades as people live longer, healthier, more active lives well into their later years. Though that’s often the case, it’s not only older couples divorcing after lengthy unions.

What is considered a long-term marriage in Oregon?

Ending a long-term marriage often becomes a complicated endeavor. If you plan to divorce after being married for more than ten years, there are a number of issues that need special attention. The decade mark is usually the line for what many consider a long-term marriage. 

There’s less of a social stigma attached to divorce than in earlier eras. With improved education and employment opportunities across the board, people are less likely to stay in a broken, unhealthy, unsatisfying marriages than in previous generations.

Some couples stay together for the sake of children. But once the kids grow up and move out, you have fewer reasons to maintain the status quo.

Other Reading: Is Your Business A Divisible Asset? How To Protect Your Business During A Divorce

Division of Property in Long-Term Marriages

In shorter situations, it’s often relatively simple for a couple to split up their property in a divorce. Couples divide what they have, if they have anything, and go on about their business. But for long-term marriages, this is often much more difficult.

Oregon practices equitable distribution. This means that the state views the property as belonging to the spouse who acquired it. In cases of long-term marriages, however, the lines of ownership often tend to blur.

The longer the relationship, the more tangled things become.

The goal of the division of property in a divorce is for each party to emerge on a relatively even financial footing. Ideally, both spouses will be able to enjoy a lifestyle similar to that experienced while married.

In cases of long-term marriages, this often takes a great deal of work between the spouses, with mediators, or even in court.

Related Reading: How is Debt Divided?

Spousal Support

Child support follows a strict equation. On the other hand, spousal support is usually less formulaic. Many variables come into play when settling on a number.

Among other things, the courts consider:

  • The health of both spouses.
  • Future earning potential of each party.
  • Amount of shared debt.
  • Length of the marriage.
  • Whether one spouse supported the other.

As the division of property, the goal of spousal support is to position the supported spouse as close as possible to the standard of living experienced during the marriage.

In many cases, especially when it comes to longer marriages, spousal support payments continue indefinitely. Things like remarriage can impact this, but it varies from case to case.

Related Reading: Spousal Support in Oregon: What You Should Know

Long-Term Marriages and Retirement

As we get older, we tend to give more and more thought to retirement. Many people have an IRA, 401(k), military pension, or other forms of retirement benefits.

It’s important to account for all of these because they are all on the block to be divided in a divorce. How much depends on a variety of factors. In the case of long-term marriages, it can be a hefty chunk.

Divorce may have a substantial impact on any retirement plans you’ve made. In some cases, people wind up working much longer than they originally intended. Many often stay at jobs or at least have to find other work after dividing retirement benefits.

Social Security is also something to consider in long-term marriages, and the length has a huge impact here. If your marriage lasted at least ten years, you can receive Social Security benefits based on your ex’s work history.

If you are older than 62 and currently unmarried, you also qualify. This is most common in cases where one spouse earned significantly more than the other.

With so many factors in play, it’s likely in your best interest to consult a divorce attorney or other professional.

Related Reading: How are Social Security Benefits Divided in a Divorce?

Living Arrangements

One of the biggest changes many people experience after a divorce following a long-term marriage is finding a new living situation. Ideally, this represents a positive shift, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be weird.

After years of cohabitating with another person, living on your own takes some getting used to. There are also other potential adjustments beyond that.

When you and your spouse owned a home together, odds are, one of you will have to move out. If you haven’t already.

If you wind up in possession of the house, it may be the first time you have to pay the mortgage entirely on your own. Or bills. Or taxes. This has a huge impact on your financial situation. In many cases, divorcing couples wind up selling their marital home.

Related Reading: Whether or Not to Sell Your Home During a Divorce

Altered Family Dynamics

Divorce after long-term marriages often alters the entire family landscape.

Even if your kids are grown, live their own individual lives, and have families of their own, things change drastically. When adult children are involved, there’s no back and forth about custody, child support, visitation, and family weekend trips to Crater Lake. But holidays, birthdays, and family gatherings likely won’t ever look quite the same.

Though you won’t need an actual parenting plan or visitation schedule, you may well wind up with something rather similar.

You and your ex may split key holiday celebrations with the kids and grandkids, almost like shared custody. In amicable splits, sometimes divorced parents can still be in the room with each other, but that’s not the norm.

The longer a marriage, the more your lives become intertwined. The flip side of that it becomes much more difficult to untangle them in a divorce.

Even in low-conflict divorces, be aware of a number of unique legal and financial complications. These are just a few potential hurdles you may face.

As in most divorces, it’s likely in your best interest to hire an attorney. An experienced divorce lawyer can help guide you through the treacherous waters toward an optimal outcome.

Related Reading: Breaking Down Divorce Rates By Generation

Comments 4

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    1. Post

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