If you’ve heard this term lately it’s because getting divorced after many years of marriage is no longer the exception. More and more often people who have long-term marriages are coming in and saying, “I’m done”. Marriages for more than 20 years and even more than 30 years aren’t uncommon.
Many times, the parties have held it together until their kids have graduated high school or sometimes college. It’s a familiar refrain, “I don’t want to do it until my kids are grown”.
Divorcing After a Long-term Marriage
If the divorce is an original divorce, these are some things you will want to consider if divorcing after a long-term marriage:
- Alimony. In a long-term marriage, alimony is more likely if there is an earning disparity. I’ve done a number of articles on alimony for more complete information.
- What kinds of retirement assets? Will my spouse get my retirement is another big question.
- Are there multiple retirement accounts and were all earned during the marriage?
- When will you or your spouse be eligible for social security?
- Is there life insurance in place?
- How much is your health insurance going to cost? What will co-pays cost?
- What is the equity in the house or any other property?
- Are there stock options or profit-sharing within the company your spouse is entitled to receive?
- What will your budget be once you are divorced?
- Is there debt outstanding in both parties’ names?
- What kind of housing can you afford?
Some of this information will only come into play if you are approaching retirement age. For instance, I had one client who found out her husband was living a double life in another state. Only then was she willing to go forward with the divorce despite her age.
They had numerous pieces of property in several different states. Her husband had not kept her in the loop about any of the values. We had to sift through a lot of closing paperwork and ask for appraisals to find out what she was due.
I had another client, who was on her second divorce. She was approaching eighty and her biggest concern was how she would provide for her health care. Before we agreed to a settlement, I had her find out what her medications and medical appointments would cost.
We had to build this into the property settlement. If you are on a fixed income, there is no opportunity to start over. You’ve got to contemplate all the financial possibilities that you may face.
Having a financial planner to help guide you through this transition is especially important. If you haven’t dealt with these aspects of your marriage, you may feel lost. But knowledge is power. Being armed with a qualified divorce attorney as well as professionals who can assist you in navigation is key.