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How The Length Of Your Marriage May Affect Your Divorce

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Division of property and spousal support are often the two main concerns that arise when couples decide to dissolve their marriage. When it comes to divorce settlements, one major thing the court takes into consideration is the couple’s length of marriage before the divorce.

When distributing property between a couple, the court has to determine what proportion belongs to both spouses equally (community or marital property) and what portion belongs to just one spouse (separate property).

The State of Washington’s Community Property law presumes that almost all assets and debts acquired during a marriage are jointly owned by both spouses, and should hence be equally divided upon divorce.

Separate property, on the other hand, is any property acquired individually by one of the spouses before or during the marriage. The properties may include gifts, inheritances, or items that were purchased before the marriage.

The Length Of Your Marriage And Divorce Settlements

The length of marriage is an important consideration of the Court but they also factor in how established each couple is financially  – the divorce law is designed to ensure that neither spouse is at a distinct financial disadvantage after the divorce, particularly if they have been married for a long time.

So, does the length of my marriage affect divorce settlement?

Yes, Washington State divorce law recognizes three types of marriage durations: short-term marriage, long-term marriage, and medium duration marriage – and they each possess requirements that help the court decide how much settlement you will receive and for how long you will receive it upon divorce.

Property Division And Length Of Marriage

Let’s take a look at how each marriage class influences the court’s decision when it comes to the allocation of divorce settlements between spouses.

  1. Short-term Marriage

While this varies from state to state, divorce law generally considers a marriage of fewer than 5 years to be a short marriage, and for this length of a marriage, the court will try to aim for a 50/50 community property division between the couple, especially if there were no children and both parties were employed throughout the marriage. However, in a case where one party brought more assets into the marriage, the court may deem it fit to let the aforementioned spouse retain their property – or at least a larger portion of it.

  1. Long-term Marriage

The court generally considers a marriage of about 25 years and beyond to be a long marriage, and for this marriage duration, it is likely to award the lower-earning spouse a higher portion of the marital property.  A situation like this occurs, when in a marriage, one spouse is financially dependent on the other spouse who provides a certain living standard as a result of their earning capabilities and income – so the court tries to ensure that the living condition of the lower-earning spouse is not worse off after the divorce.

  1. Medium Duration Marriage

Marriages that last for about 5 to 25 years tend to have property divided equitably, unless one spouse earns more dramatically income than the other.  Other factors such as education, employment history, and special needs children will also be considered.  

Spousal Support And Length Of Marriage

Are you wondering, “how else does the length of my marriage affect divorce settlement?”

The length of marriage before a divorce can largely determine how much spousal support (also known as alimony or maintenance) a spouse may receive upon divorce and for how long.

Spousal Support (Alimony) is an optional amount of money a relatively wealthy spouse may be required  by court order to pay to financially support the lesser-earning spouse for a given period of time after a divorce.

In a long-term marriage, the court awards spousal support to the non-earning/lower-income spouse for a longer period – sometimes even for a lifetime. Generally, the longer the length of marriage before divorce, the longer the duration of support or alimony awarded to the dependent spouse.

For mid-length marriages, support awarded is usually limited in duration if awarded at all, and in a short-term marriage, the court is much less likely to award spousal support.

Reliable And Experienced Divorce Lawyers In Washington

Going through a divorce and trying to sort out a settlement can be overwhelming – we know this because of our years of experience as divorce attorneys. However, you do not have to go through the hassle alone, Divorce Lawyers for Men is here to help you through your journey. No matter the length of marriage before divorce, Divorce Lawyers for Men can help you through the settlement.

Not only will we provide you with the best counsel so you know the best way forward for your case, but we will also represent you in court if need be.

Do you wish to speak to a trusted divorce lawyer? Contact us today, and we would be delighted to help!

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