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No matter how long a couple has been married, getting divorced is a difficult and emotional process. However, parties who have been married for many years do face unique challenges. This is often attributed to the fact that in long-term marriages, it is not uncommon for one spouse to be the primary earner, while the other spouse fulfills childcare duties, or if both parties work, for one spouse to have earned a substantially higher income than the other. This can raise difficulties when dividing property or awarding spousal support, so if you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced Michigan divorce attorney about the issues that can arise when dissolving a long-term marriage.
Regardless of the length of a marriage, Michigan courts divide a couple’s marital assets equitably upon divorce. However, couples that have been married for many years are more likely to have acquired a significant number of assets and debts while together than a couple that has only been married for a few months. This can make deciding what qualifies as an equitable distribution extremely difficult, especially if the majority of the assets were acquired by one spouse with his or her higher earnings. Fortunately, when dividing assets between divorcing parties, Michigan courts take a number of factors into account, including not only the length of the marriage in question but also the relative needs and earning ability of the parties.
When it comes to awarding spousal support, courts are also willing to take into consideration the length of a couple’s marriage before making a determination. Generally, the longer the marriage is, the more likely a judge will be to order alimony to one of the spouses, especially if one of the parties routinely earned less than the other. Similarly, the age of the spouse seeking alimony often comes into play when making a determination regarding an alimony award, as it is usually considered unreasonable to ask a spouse who is nearing retirement age to begin looking for a new job or to obtain additional vocational training in order to achieve a higher paying or new career.
Although it is not always the case, it is often more likely that a couple that has been married for a number of years also has children. When these children are no longer minors and have left home, their parents will not need to grapple with child support or custody issues. If, however, one or more of the children are still under the age of 18 years old at the time of the divorce, the couple will need to come up with a parenting plan and time-sharing agreement that is approved by the court.
Dissolving a long-term marriage comes with a series of unique issues and hardships, but an experienced divorce attorney can assist you. Please call Iafrate & Salassa at (586) 263-1600 or complete and submit one of our online forms for answers to your divorce-related questions.