Common Divorce Issues in Long-Term Marriages

Common Divorce Issues in Long-Term Marriages

Common Divorce Issues in Long-Term Marriages

Navigating the intensity of a divorce in a long-term marriage can be challenging, especially when you’ve been married to your spouse for decades.

Untangling your life from your spouse’s can be strenuous and emotionally draining because your assets and debts have become deeply intertwined and your familial bonds have solidified.

At Herlihy Family Law, our team of professional divorce attorneys has all the necessary tools to help you take the next steps with clarity and confidence. 


Separation of Deeply Entangled Assets 

In long-term marriages, financial entanglement goes beyond basic shared assets like real estate and bank accounts. Other common marital assets subject to division are vehicles, retirement accounts, pensions, tax credits or refunds, investments, and family-owned businesses. 

Alabama is an equitable distribution state – i.e. things don’t automatically get split down the middle 50/50. The court will determine what a fair distribution is based on the facts and circumstances of a case.

With long-term marriages, judges have more discretion on how to divide assets and debts. Part of these considerations include who contributed more on the front end and which spouse needed the most assistance at the time of the separation. 



Another crucial component of divorce for parties in a long-term marriage is spousal support or alimony. In Alabama, alimony is not a given but is largely dependent on the circumstances of the case.

Alabama judges have complete discretion over the issue of alimony. Alimony awards are going to be most common in a long-term marriage when one spouse has been financially dependent on the other for all or at least a significant part of the marriage.

Other factors the court will consider are the earning ability of the spouses; the property awards and value of each spouse’s estate; the health and age of the parties; and in some cases, marital misconduct by either spouse, including adultery. 

The two most common awards of alimony are rehabilitative and periodic. Rehabilitative alimony is short-term support used as a mechanism to help one spouse transition back to the workforce when he or she has a significant earning capacity.

Periodic alimony is a specific payment that is made on a specified, periodic basis. The circumstances in which periodic alimony terminates are when the receiving spouse either remarries, cohabitates with a romantic partner, or dies.

In Alabama, alimony is always modifiable, whether rehabilitative or periodic, upon a showing of a material change in circumstances. 

Emotional Distress on the Whole Family 

The emotional toll of ending a long-term marriage cannot be understated. Having shared a significant portion of your life with someone, the process of separating it can be daunting and terrifying. The heartache you will feel is inevitable.


It is no surprise that people say going through a divorce is the same as losing a loved one. You are actively mourning the loss of a significant part of your life!


This is especially hard for individuals in a long-term marriage because their family ties have been solidified for years and years. Their families have co-mingled for so long that divorce doesn’t just impact the parties themselves. Their larger family unit can be just as devastated. 

Disconnecting from in-laws and relatives who have provided you with childcare, friendship, emotional support, or guidance is no easy feat.

Whether you have children or not, maintaining these extended family relationships may be important to you. You and your extended family can mitigate the impact of divorce by finding reassurance that it is a shared experience. And the relationship can endure through mutual respect and open communication. 

Separation of Social Lives 

Divorce can also impact your social circles and personal identity. Couples spend years building mutual friendships and shared hobbies.

A divorce means not only dividing assets and responsibilities but also reshaping your social life. One common change in social circles after divorce is a shift in mutual friends.

Often, couples tend to have shared friends who may feel caught in the middle or unsure how to remain connected with both individuals. 

Communication is always key. Be open and honest with your friends about what you’re going through. Let them know if you need space or if you want their support. It’s okay to lean on them during this difficult time.

Some friends may choose sides or feel uncomfortable maintaining relationships with both parties. This can lead to an inevitable reevaluation of one’s social circle and potentially the loss of friendships. 

Grief over lost friendships is normal and should be acknowledged; however, it’s also essential not to dwell on what was lost but instead focus on building healthier relationships moving forward.

Divorced individuals may find themselves seeking out new connections and support systems outside their previous circle. This could mean joining new clubs or organizations, attending events related to personal interests, or even exploring online communities where they can connect with others going through similar experiences.

Finding support and building a strong social circle post-divorce can be a challenging but essential part of moving forward in your life. 


Author: Anna Eden

Attorney Anna Eden is a native of Mobile, Alabama. Prior to joining Herlihy Family Law, Anna worked as a law clerk for Circuit Court Judges Michael Windom and Michael Sherman. It was during her time clerking for Judge Sherman that Anna discovered her passion for helping people navigate the complex and emotional issues involved in family law.

Anna aids in the representation of individuals across a variety of family law issues, including divorce and child support, juvenile law, child custody law, probate, and wills.

Divorce Cost: How Much Does It Really Cost?

Divorce Cost: How Much Does It Really Cost?

Divorce Cost: How Much Does It Really Cost?

A very common question we get asked is how much does divorce cost? While no one enters into marriage anticipating getting divorced, when a marriage is not sustainable, divorce can be the answer and the beginning of your new life. Of course, as with anything in life, divorce is not free.

However, there are ways to plan and choose the path that is most well-suited for your situation, needs, and budget.


Understanding the Price Tag: How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

Divorce is not “one size fits all” and the price of a divorce varies based on the facts. More complicated assets, finances, child custody, and fault allegations make divorces more complicated and often more expensive. Divorces with limited assets, more simple finances, and without child custody are often less expensive.

However, every divorce is different and the parties are the ones that often determine how much a divorce will cost. Pretrial hearings subpoenaed records, discovery, and the filing of motions and pleadings can cause divorce litigation to be more and more expensive.

The facts of the case are going to dictate the necessity of increased litigation expenses or the ability to avoid the same.


Affordable Options: Exploring the Cost of a Simple Uncontested Divorce

The cheapest option for divorce is an uncontested divorce.  This requires the parties to have an agreement and be agreeable to the terms of their divorce.

Upon an agreement being written up, it is signed and notarized by both parties and then filed with the Court along with any other necessary documents required by the clerk’s office.

Uncontested divorces require the parties to agree to all the terms of their divorce. Any disagreement as to the terms therein can prevent an uncontested divorce from being filed and leave the parties no closer to getting divorced.

In addition to facilitating uncontested divorce agreements, Herlihy Family Law, PC also offers the option for people to purchase an uncontested divorce package for $500 and fill out the necessary paperwork included in the package themselves using the detailed instructions included with them.

This can be a great option for parties that have had a short marriage, have few assets, and have limited finances. However, yet again if there is not an agreement the parties remain married and without a pending divorce case and eventual trial date.


The Role of Lawyers: How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer Cost?

Most divorce attorneys either charge based on an hourly rate or have some sort of flat fee structure. Hourly billing is more common in family law as the time involved in a divorce or custody case can vary greatly from case to case, and flat fee structures often do not accommodate for complex and cases requiring heavy time commitments.

Costs of divorces billed by the hour will vary based on the amount of time required in the case, the number of hearings necessary, and amount of filings and documents involved.

Also, sometimes flat fee structures will either be high or low based on the complexity and attorney involvement needed in a divorce case.

Retaining the services of an attorney is going to allow for the highest level of guidance and attentive legal advice through your divorce; however this involvement is going to be more expensive than pursuing an uncontested divorce, but often unavoidable when a contentious divorce is at hand.


Filing for Divorce: Examining Additional Expenses Involved

In addition to legal expenses for attorneys, court filings, subpoenas, document production, and other expenses related to filing your contested divorce or uncontested divorce, there are other expenses that are involved when getting divorced. Parties’ normal household and marital expenses must continue to be paid pending divorce.

Additionally, if one person decides to move out pending divorce, those are additional costs a party may choose to incur based on circumstances.

Depending on how long it takes the parties to divorce, these status quo expenses could have to be upheld for quite some time before the parties receive their Judgment of Divorce.


Budgeting for Divorce

While it is hard to budget for divorce, knowing the many expenses involved, the timeline possible, and the options can make the process easier to prepare for.

Most people enter their marriage never expecting to get divorced, but it becomes necessary for many married people and affords individuals a new beginning.


Author: Walter Gewin

Attorney Walter Gewin is a native of Mobile, Alabama. After graduation from law school, Walter clerked for Circuit Court Judge John Lockett before pursuing a career in the private practice of law. Initially, practicing a wide variety of law; Walter’s practice has become more focused on family law, including juvenile, probate, and domestic relations matters. Walter also currently serves as a certified Guardian Ad Litem in Dependency, Delinquency, and Domestic Relations matters.

10 critical pieces of paperwork you need to file divorce

10 critical pieces of paperwork you need to file divorce

10 critical pieces of paperwork you need to file divorce

A lot of divorce clients ask me, what documents do I need to get together? Here is a list of some of the most important documents you will need:

  1. Complete income tax returns, W2s, and other like documents for the last 3 years.
  2.  Year-to-date income information (such as pay stubs) for yourself and your spouse.
  3. Statements for banking and other financial accounts for the past 12 months.
  4. Statements for credit cards and other debts for the past 12 months.
  5.  If you have children, copies of the monthly out-of-pocket cost of health insurance and the number of people covered on the plan. If you have employer-provided health insurance, this may be on your pay stub.
  6. If you have children, copies of any work-related daycare expense.
  7. Deeds, appraisals, mortgages, or other like documents for all real estate.
  8. Your will and your spouse’s will.
  9. Life insurance policies for you and your spouse.
  10. Certificates of title or other ownership documents regarding any cars, boats, motorcycles, RVs, or any type of titled vehicle.

Powers of Attorney vs. Health Care Directives

Powers of Attorney vs. Health Care Directives

Powers of Attorney vs. Health Care Directives

Many people are unfamiliar with the legal distinctions between powers of attorney, health care directives, and guardianships/conservatorships.

Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a legal document giving authority to another person to act for you in either specified or all legal and financial matters. The person giving power of attorney must presently have the capacity to do so. That is, they must understand what they are doing and be able to make important decisions. If you are concerned that you may become incapacitated for health or another reason (for example, unavailable due to being out of the country), it is a good idea to give power of attorney to someone that you trust. Note: This person will have the authority to conduct legal or financial transactions as if they are you, with no further notice to or permission from you, so be very careful when granting someone your power of attorney.

Health Care Directive

A Health Care Directive, also known as a living will, personal directive, advance directive, or medical directive is a legal document specifying what actions should be taken for a person’s health if they no longer can make decisions for themselves due to illness or incapacity. In your health care directive, you make decisions about whether you would want to be kept alive by artificial means if you are terminally ill or permanently incapacitated, or whether to allow other treatment which would keep you alive but which could not cure you. You can also designate someone to make those decisions for you if you are unable to do so.


A Guardianship or Conservatorship is granted only in instances in which an individual is already mentally or physically incapacitated and cannot take care of himself or manage his affairs. There must be medical evidence in support of same presented for the Court to order a Guardianship or Conservatorship. A Guardianship applies to matters affecting the person, and Conservatorship strictly applies to their assets and financial affairs.

Please contact Herlihy Family Law if we can assist you or your family with a Power of Attorney, Health Care Directive, or Guardianship/Conservatorship.

Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

Divorce and the sale of your home often go hand in hand. Below are some tips from Carolyn Hasser, a local Realtor with Roberts Brothers.

Getting your home ready to sell

If you’re thinking of selling, here are a few tips to help you get top dollar for your home!

1. Spruce up your yard – plant a few flowers, hang a couple of ferns on the front porch, trim your shrubs back so that your windows can be seen, pull vines away from the house or eliminate them completely, edge, replace missing grass, and pick up toys. Curb appeal beckons your buyer to come inside, and if the outside doesn’t look neat and well kept, no one will want to go inside!

2. Declutter – Take personal pictures and put them away – buyers want to imagine their pictures and belongings in the house, and too many personal items like collectibles and pictures are distracting. Even too much furniture can keep the home from looking spacious. In the kitchen, remove as much as you can off the countertops. Either pack it away or put it into a cabinet. And don’t forget the garage! You’ll be moving anyway, so pack up as much as you can and store it. It may help to hire a professional stager to give his/her opinion and help you rearrange. Your realtor should be able to help you as well, or ask a friend whose taste you appreciate to be honest with you.

3. Clean out your closets – Space is a big seller, and if there are out of season clothes you don’t need at the moment, pack them away under beds or take them somewhere to be stored.

4. Keep rooms clean and neat – Sometimes a buyer will want to see your house at a moment’s notice – and you don’t want to pass that up, so keep everything in its place. If you have children (or a messy spouse!) just grab everything and put it in a container if you need to show quickly. Clean windows and bathrooms and make your kitchen sparkle.

5. Take Fido with you – or at least kennel him. You wouldn’t believe how many people are terrified of dogs. And if he does his business in the yard scoop it up!

6. List with a realtor – I know, it sounds self serving, but the fact of the matter is that realtors are the oldest profession in our country (well – maybe the SECOND oldest), and with good reason: a realtor can almost always sell your home faster, and for more money, than you can. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), over 78% of those who list a home for sale themselves either (a) give up, or (b) list with a realtor. Realtors have already prequalified buyers, so you don’t waste your time showing your home to someone who can’t afford it. And, realtors are trained to negotiate and can keep the “emotions” out of it.

You may reach Carolyn Hasser at 661-4660 or

End of Year and New Year: Top 10 Things to Do Now

End of Year and New Year: Top 10 Things to Do Now

A lot of us resolve to get more organized for the New Year. Below is a great article I found on with helpful tips on getting your legal and financial business in order for the new year. I especially like the tips at number 3 through 5, as I have found that many of my clients over the years are unfamiliar with household finances, as they have allowed that to be their spouse’s primary responsibility.

Everyone’s busy all year long. There’s work, school, and kids’ sports. Tack on summer vacation and the holidays at the end of the year, and you have even more to do. It’s easy to forget about taking care of some things that really need to be done each year. Taking some time to do them now can save you and your family time and headaches later.

1. Review and Update Your Will

You should look over your will each year to make sure it’s up-to-date. The laws don’t automatically add people to your will or automatically remove them, either. Did you get married this year? Divorced? Did you have a baby or adopt? Are your children now young adults? Your will needs to be updated for these and other life events.

While you’re at it, check your powers of attorney, too. Make sure the person you’ve named to take care of your affairs (your “attorney in fact”) is still willing and able to do so. If not, you need to make a new power of attorney.

Don’t have a will or any other estate planning tools? Get them. You can find everything you need at Whether you’re married or single, a good place to start is a planning worksheet. If you have questions or concerns, talk to an attorney.

And don’t forget about your digital assets, like online bank accounts and passwords to social media and other websites. Make a list of them and keep them in a safe or safety deposit box with your other important papers.

2. Insurance

There are all kinds of insurance matters to take care of:

  • Homeowner’s and Renter’s insurance: Did you make any improvements to your home, like remodel a kitchen or finish your basement? Did you buy a new TV? Check to make sure that your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance covers them.
  • Car insurance: In most states, it’s illegal to drive without auto insurance. You don’t want to be overinsured, though. You can save a few dollars over the year by reducing your coverage on an older car or one that’s been paid off. You can also save some money by increasing the amount of your deductible – the amount you have to pay when you make a claim against your policy.
  • Life and health insurance. Do you have enough life insurance to take care of your family in case something happens to you? Talk to your insurance agent about your new baby or a change in your marital status. The same thing goes for health insurance. Talk to your human resources professional at work or your agent about changing your coverage.

3. Start Getting Ready for the IRS

It’s never too early to start gathering receipts and other documents for next year’s taxes. Most employers send out W-2’s or “earnings statements” before Jan. 31, so if you’re ready before then, you can file fast and get your refund early.

Preparation is crucial especially if you itemize deductions, such as out-of-pocket medical expenses, mortgage interest and expenses related to your child’s college education. You’ll want to gather your paid medical bills, billing statements from schools, prescription receipts and receipts for cash donations you made to your church or favorite charities.

4. Credit Reports

Each year you’re entitled to one free report from each of the major reporting companies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). Get and read them carefully. Any errors, like credit accounts that you didn’t open, should be reported to the agency in writing. The agency will investigate the matter, usually within 30 days, and will let you know how the matter was resolved.

With identity theft so common today, it’s a good idea to take advantage of the free credit reports each and every year.

5. Credit Cards

Check the terms of your credit cards. Rearrange your budget and try to pay off your cards in full. At the very least, shop around for a credit card with a lower rate and see if you can transfer the balance to the new card. This could save you thousands of dollars in interest.

6. Licenses, Permits and Leases

Practically all of these important documents have expiration dates. Here are few to keep in mind:

  • Driver’s license. These usually expire every few years on your birthday, so check the date on yours. Driving with an expired license may lead to points against your license and higher insurance rates
    Business license and permits. Many professions and trades require you to have a license. Attorneys, electricians and plumbers usually need one. Bars and restaurants typically need a permit to sell liquor or sell food. Check the expiration date. Don’t practice your trade or profession on an expired license. You may have to pay fine, and you may even be barred from practicing for a period of time
  • Leases. As the expiration date on your home or apartment lease nears, contact your landlord to see if a rent increase is planned for the next lease term and try to negotiate. As a car renter, you should check the mileage to see if you’re in danger of going over the number of miles given by the lease. Consider asking the dealer to sell you extra miles, or perhaps take an early trade-in if you’re near the limit

7. In the US on a Visa?

Be certain to check the expiration date on your visa if you’re in the US temporarily. Start the renewal process early because it could take some time. You may be deported for being in the US after your visa expires, and you may not be able to return to the US for a period of time. Contact the local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office if you have any questions.

8. Computer Security

It’s always a good idea to keep your computer’s security settings and software up-to-date. Shopping online, using a software program to prepare your taxes and online banking makes your computer a treasure trove of valuable information. Be proactive, not reactive, when it comes to your personal information and identity theft. Once the hackers or scammers have your information, it’s too late.

Learn how to protect yourself from viruses, phishing attacks, scams and even exposing you and your family to legal risks from participating in social networking.

9. What about the Kids?

New technologies come out every day it seems, like smarter, faster computers, hand-held devices and cell phones, to name a few. You may or may not pay much attention to these things, but your children almost certainly do. If any of these items are on a gift list, start looking into security and protection for their computer and cell-phone usage.

And if you don’t already do so, maybe it’s time to monitor your kids’ computer and cell phone activities. Don’t think of it as an invasion of privacy. Rather, think of it as protecting them from the bad things that you know are out there.

10. Get a Check-Up on Your Health & Records

It’s a good idea to see your family doctor at least once a year for a regular check-up. While you’re at it, take care of some other health-related matters, such as getting a copy of your medical records, asking your doctor about how your electronic medical records are kept safe and making sure your living will and health care power of attorney are in order.