Discover the Impact of Marriage Duration on Key Factors in the Case of Divorce in New Jersey

The Length of a Marriage Can Impact the Distribution of Assets, Alimony Payments, and Other Critical Family Matters in A Divorce Settlement

Major Considerations in Divorce After a Long Marriage in Ocean County, NJSome couples divorce after a year or two, realizing they made a mistake early. Others wait until the kids grow up before calling it quits. Whether your marriage lasted a short or long time, the legal and emotional process does not change much. However, longer marriages can be more complicated, especially regarding property division and alimony. When your long-term marriage ends in divorce, you can rely on a skillful divorce attorney at The Bronzino Law Firm to advise and guide you through the often complicated legal negotiations and procedures.

Key Information to Include in a Divorce Decree Regardless of the Time Married

All divorces end with a divorce decree that covers all aspects of a marriage, including relationship and financial matters. In long-term marriages of 25 years or more, child custody may not be an issue so much as property division. But with 10-to-15-year marriages, child custody and support may be issues to work out, at least as to custody. Support does not change due to marriage length. New Jersey’s child support guidelines determine what the non-custodial parent pays based on income and other factors.

What Duration of Marriage is Considered Long in NJ?

And a long marriage is up to interpretation. There is no cutoff date at law to stamp a marriage lengthy for property division and support purposes. However, ten years is long enough to establish a lifestyle and pattern of financial contribution to the household. So, one party may make significantly more income than the other, but one may take on more household duties than the other. Thus, a court considers how long the parties relied on the lifestyle patterns they practiced and may give more to the spouse who earned less to equalize the economic disadvantage one party has until they are self-supporting or able to maintain an approximation of their former lifestyle.

But even a shorter marriage, say, of five years, can be a long-term marriage when considering the years the spouses cohabitated before marriage. So, a couple that lived together for seven years before marrying has 12 years of cohabitation, which is long enough to form a lifestyle based on two incomes and debt sharing. A family court looking at a long marriage may divide marital property differently than a short-term marriage.

Key Factors Considered in Property Division and Spousal Support

Factors courts consider for property division and spousal support include the length of the marriage, each spouse’s income, the needs of dependent children, assets, debts, earning capacity, future financial needs, historical financial contributions, the standard of living enjoyed by the family, and special needs of each spouse or children. As far as possible, a court considers how the family lived to fashion property divisions and support allocations.

How Length of Marriage Affects Equitable Property Division in New Jersey

New Jersey family law judges aim to craft an equitable property division between spouses. While a short-term marriage may quickly boil down to an even split, a longer marriage may not. A marriage of 25 years or more may warrant an uneven split, with the spouse who stayed home to raise kids getting more than 50% of the property. In this way, the lower or non-earning spouse can live closer to the lifestyle they enjoyed as a married individual. The same may be true of shorter marriages over five years. However, unions of less than five years typically have yet to establish a lifestyle both rely on in the short term, especially when both parties earn income.

But even long-term marriages of two equal earners may end in an even split of property and debts. Thus, property allocation in divorce may or may not be affected by the length of the marriage. The parties’ incomes or earning potentials matter more since the court looks at marital life before and life after divorce, how the parties lived and will live as separate households. When both can enjoy similar lifestyles after marriage as enjoyed during the marriage due to equal earning capacities, then property division is not affected by the marriage length.

However, each situation is unique, and property division depends on each marriage’s factors. More commonly, a lengthy marriage tends toward more complex issues for parties and judges to calculate. The longer the union, the likelier the spouses have accumulated various types of wealth, whether in real estate, employment benefits, businesses, professional practices, and retirement and investment accounts.

Dealing with the Complexities of Valuing Property after a Long-Term Marriage

Computing a value for some property holdings is more straightforward than others. For example, real estate investment property may require obtaining an appraisal or comparable real estate portfolio to evaluate the property. However, service-oriented or professional practices that rely on the efforts and allure of one spouse may only have a readily ascertainable value with the help of an experienced business evaluator or forensic accountant.

Also, one spouse may have acquired retirement monies in their account for years before marriage. Dividing retirement or stock options due to professional service in a company may be complex. Several professionals may be necessary to arrive at reasonable, fair evaluations. Typically, the spouse who brought assets or property into the marriage gets to keep it in divorce. However, other factors may influence whether pre-marital property remains separate or part of the marital assets division.

Learn How the Length of a Marriage Can Affect Divorce Proceedings in New JerseyDebt Division Challenges in Long Marriages

Debts can also be more complicated as joint credit cards, mortgages, and lines of credit, for example, can be more difficult to divide in long-term marriages. The division is easy when both parties are signatories to the debt, and each has adequate income to pay half the debt. However, when one party uses credit cards or lines of credit for a business they run, a more complex division of debt and allocation of assets arises, mainly when the business cannot be divided. One spouse may have to refinance a mortgage to keep a family residence or other debt so that the divorce finalizes with little to no joint debt obligations.

Marriage Duration and Its Impact on Alimony

Finally, the length of marriage affects spousal support awards or alimony. Spousal support is not automatic. One spouse must need help, and the other must be able to pay for it. In awarding spousal support, a court looks at the income disparity between the spouses throughout the marriage. The longer the marriage, the longer the difference exists, and the more likely a court will order spousal support from the higher earner. Moreover, the longer the marriage, the more likely a judge will order a more extended support period.

So, a 35-year marriage may warrant a lifetime spousal award. On the other hand, shorter marriages may mean a limited duration of spousal support awards. A brief marriage may not include a permanent spousal support award. Courts consistently have the discretion to award temporary support awards to help one spouse become self-supporting during the divorce or for a short time afterward.

Need Support to Prepare for Your Divorce After a Long Marriage? Contact Our Southern NJ Family Lawyers

The length of your marriage can affect what you get in a divorce, so you must have expert legal representation in a divorce. The complex calculations necessary in long-term marriage divorces require an experienced family law attorney to ensure you can continue to thrive after divorce. You need someone solid and compassionate to protect your interests during divorce proceedings. Contact a New Jersey divorce attorney at The Bronzino Law Firm if you have questions about how the length of your marriage affects your divorce case and support issues like alimony. We can assist you in a free consultation and represent your interests with careful attention and skillful commitment in Rumson, Wall, Freehold, Jackson, Middletown, and other Ocean and Monmouth County areas. Call (732) 812-3102 or reach us online.