It is becoming far more common than it once was for couples to divorce after decades-long marriages. Because individuals in this position are nearly always 50 years of age or older, this phenomenon has been dubbed “gray divorce.”
Ending a long-term marriage can be more complicated in many ways than ending a shorter marriage. Although child custody and support are typically not part of these divorce settlements because the couples’ children tend to be adults by this point, detangling decades of marital assets and considering the parties’ ages, health status, and employability are complex issues that must be addressed.
The trend in recent years has been for courts to award temporary spousal support, which allows the lower-earning partner to complete the necessary education or job training to secure self-supporting employment. With long marriages, generally those that lasted 20 years or longer, the court is more likely to enter a permanent spousal support order. This type of order does not have an expiration date, but this does not mean it cannot be terminated. If the recipient remarries or either party dies, the support obligation is terminated. Other significant changes to either party’s circumstances, such as cohabitation or job loss, can also be grounds to modify a spousal support order.
After decades of marriage, couples generally have a lot of assets. These can include:
In Ohio, all assets obtained during a couple’s marriage is known as “community property,” meaning that it is jointly owned by both parties. The court does not necessarily have to divide a couple’s property equally and in fact, it rarely does. Rather, it divides the property according to a series of factors, one of which is the length of the marriage and another of which is each partner’s assets and liabilities.
When a divorcing couple is near retirement age, the retirement is often a focal point. In addition to splitting retirement accounts, the court may also have to consider the impact each asset’s tax burden will have on the partners once they no longer have regular incomes.
Divorced individuals may also have to alter their wills and make other substantial changes to their estate plans.
If you were married for a long time, your divorce will be very different from a divorce between people who were only married a few years. To ensure that your needs are met and your best interests are fully served, work with a divorce lawyer who has experience ending long-term marriages. Contact our team of experienced divorce lawyers at Comunale Law Office today to set up your initial consultation with a member of our firm.
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