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.