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  • Writer's pictureSeth Eric Springer, Esq.

Does Length Of Marriage Affect Divorce Settlement?

The conventional wisdom is that longer marriages lead to less conflict. But new research challenges that notion. The study, published in the journal Social Science Research, examined data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey from 2005 to 2010. It found that couples in marriages lasting over 10 years were no less likely to get divorced than couples who had been married for less than 10 years.

When it comes to divorce, does the length of your marriage affect the amount of money you get in a settlement? That is a question that can be and has been asked by people in this country for decades. According to a study conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, it is clear that the longer you stay married, the more likely you are to get a higher settlement figure.

If you have been married for a long time and are contemplating divorce, you would expect both parties to get a fair share of the assets and debts in the divorce settlement. And, this is true in most cases, but in some instances, your married life can have an impact on the amount of alimony you will be receiving. As life is a series of challenges, so is marriage. It is rarely simple, but there are definite challenges that come with being married.

Understanding what is a long marriage

Understanding What is a Long Marriage

A long marriage is one that lasts for decades. The term "long marriage" is a misnomer and should not be considered a measurement of a couple's marital longevity. No marriage is "long" or "short" in a meaningful way. A long marriage simply means that it is older than a shorter one by a large margin. While others use this term to describe a marriage that has lasted for ten or fifteen years, a long marriage is one that has lasted for 40 or 50 years. There is a critical difference between these two terms. A long marriage is a long one and a lengthy one. When it comes to long marriages, the latter is more appropriate.

Does the Length of Marriage Affect Divorce Settlement?

Heading down to the courthouse, you are certain that your marriage will end in divorce. But, does the length of your marriage affect this outcome? What if you have been together for 20+ years? Or, what if you have been married for 40+ years, and your spouse passed away? The short answer is that there are a host of factors that are determining factors, and it will not be clear until you read all the paperwork.

It's important to consider what you will get out of your marriage and what you will get out of it in the long run. All too often, people enter into marriage with the "he's a great guy, what's not to like?" mentality, and the result is a marriage that becomes stale and unfulfilling. The other possible result is that the marriage is too short, and the couple divorced after only a few years.

Most people know that it's important to agree on financial issues, such as alimony, child and spousal support, and that a lot of these issues can be negotiated. When couples who have been married for years get divorced, however, they may be surprised to learn that the length of the marriage can greatly impact the amount of these payments.

If you and your spouse were married for 20 years, the length of your marriage would be reflected in the financial terms of your divorce settlement. In Ontario, under the Family Law Act, spousal support is limited to a maximum of 25 years. For example, if you and your spouse were married for 20 years, your spouse would be entitled to 25 years’ worth of spousal support—that's 25 X $50,000 = $1 million. If you were married for 10 years, your spouse would only be entitled to 1/2 of that, or $250,000.

Marriages come in all shapes, sizes, and duration; how property will be divided will vary according to the nature and duration of the relationship. The Courts can transfer a jointly owned property to the ownership of one of the parties or, in circumstances where the home is already under the sole name of one of the parties. These Courts have the power to alter the ownership.

Remember, having a good divorce attorney on your side can significantly help with divorce proceedings.

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