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How the length of marriage changes priorities in divorce

On Behalf of | Oct 29, 2021 | Divorce |

Divorce is without question difficult no matter what age family members are, but concerns tend to shift depending on how long the couple has been married. As newlyweds start a family and watch it grow, the family needs that come to the forefront in divorce require different kinds of attention depending on the children’s ages.

People do not always consider the financial obligations that are part of the marriage contract either, at least not until they discover how the court will split their assets during divorce. Virginia is an equitable division state, meaning that a judge will determine the fair, but not necessarily equal, division. As property and finances accumulate over time, assets often become commingled to the point that splitting assets can be quite costly.

For residents of Fairfax County and throughout northern Virginia, understanding the implications of divorce will help keep them from making impulsive decisions that could have negative consequences once the divorce settlement is final. Finding solutions and discovering options will help make the path forward a little clearer.

Divorce at different decades

Divorce will remain complicated no matter how long the marriage lasted, but the issues will change depending on a split that occurs after 10, 20 or 30 years of marriage. At 10 years and where there are children, custody issues and childcare concerns are the top priority as parents try to accommodate the challenging routines that are an essential part of a young child’s development. These concerns become more complicated if one spouse changes jobs or location, or if they remarry.

Alimony, child support and asset distribution also come to the forefront, as there are bound to be cost-of-living adjustments that can affect the parents’ stability as well as child’s educational opportunities, including college later, or recreational activities.

At the 20-year stage, as the children are older, childcare is not as much of a priority. The financial well-being of the child becomes more important, however, as they plan for college. Unlike earlier stages in the marriage, where a prenuptial could clarify which assets are not part of property division, as the marriage matures, there is more shared accumulation of both assets and debt. Having said this, alimony becomes a bigger issue as the spouse who may have given up a career for the marriage will need more support.

Finally, at the 30-year mark, the primary concern is that now most accumulated wealth is commingled, and how a smaller pool of investment assets will impact each spouse’s retirement plan. This may mean retiring later than planned or withdrawing retirement funds earlier than expected.


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