We’ve all heard of the 7 Year Itch – the idea that a marriage can only stay happy for seven years before both parties begin to lose interest in the relationship. While it’s hard to track down exactly when most marriages doomed to fail begin to decline, a recent study found that the median duration of marriages is 10-12 years. This same study showed that only one third of all marriages ended within the first seven years.
So, for the two-thirds of couples who make it to 10, 20, or 30 years or longer before divorcing, what does divorce look like? Is it easier to divorce earlier? Or is it easier later? Will couples be more likely to battle or concede earlier or later? According to an article by Forbes – no, the timing of a divorce doesn’t necessarily mean it will be more or less complicated, but the timing may affect agreements that couples need to make in order to complete their divorce. Let’s see what they have to say about it.
Divorcing earlier vs. later – the important issues
When you think about the most important things you need to plan for in your 30s and 40s vs. in your 50s and 60s, the most obvious answers are probably children in the former and finances/retirement in the latter. These issues, says Forbes, tend to lead to the most important decisions made in divorce agreements.
Divorce after 10 years of marriage
Couples who get divorced after about 10 years of marriage, likely in their late 20s to late 30s, will often note child custody arrangements as the most important issue to them. When most people think of custody arrangements, they likely think of only the surface level considerations, such as the number of hours per week each parent spends with the child.
But Forbes points out the more nuanced considerations as well – things like sharing childcare, extracurricular activities, vacations, etc. For all of these concerns, not only time but also money must be considered – will costs be split 50/50 or will one parent be responsible for more of the burden? These can lead to complicated discussions and negotiations for a couple with young children who may not have given much thought to future day-to-day needs.
Divorce after 20 years of marriage
As time goes on, decisions around children may begin to merge with financial decisions. By the time a couple has been married for 20 years, any children they have will likely be high school or college-aged, which brings even more complicated questions for a divorcing couple. First, teenaged children have spent more time getting used to the status quo, and it will be important for any custody and financial arrangements to allow the children to continue with the lifestyle to which they are accustomed.
Second, questions like who will pay for college, whether or not parents will keep adult children on health insurance policies, or whether or not adult children will continue to live at home all come into play at this point in a marriage. Forbes also points out that after 20 years, even when both spouses are working, one may have stepped back slightly from their career path in order to run the household; this may factor into any spousal support decisions that need to be made.
Divorce after 30 years (or more!) of marriage
Time continues to tick on, and by the time a couple has been married for 30 years, they will likely be in their 50s to 60s and beginning to consider retirement and long-term financial decisions. Divorce at this phase in a marriage can significantly hinder a person’s retirement plans; Forbes points out that a person may be forced to postpone a planned retirement if retirement funds have been split or if spousal support arrangements require him or her to have more income than retirement funds can contribute. On the other hand, the person who is receiving spousal support may be required to withdraw retirement funds at the earliest age possible, while many people would prefer to wait as long as possible before beginning to withdraw those funds.
How a Maryville divorce attorney can help at any age
Financial and child related arrangements are the most important decisions to be made in most divorce arrangements; unfortunately, they also tend to be the most complicated. Divorce laws are extremely nuanced, and many are ever-changing, and even in an uncontested divorce a person can be at a serious disadvantage if they do not seek the support of an experienced family law attorney.
Many people who are seeking an uncontested divorce in order to expedite the process may not realize what they are entitled to regarding shared assets, and once an uncontested divorce settlement is agreed upon it often cannot be changed. A divorce lawyer will ensure their client receives the most fair and equitable outcome regardless of whether or not one spouse is contesting.
Of course, a lawyer is even more important if a divorce is being contested by one party. Child support, custody, and financial negotiations can quickly become messy, and it is in the best interest of anyone seeking divorce to work with an experienced lawyer who is familiar with negotiation, mediation, and trials.
Additionally, contested divorces may require research into the private lives of both spouses – especially if child custody is being negotiated – and a divorce lawyer can work to keep as much information as possible off the public record. This can be especially important when older children are involved in negotiations; most parents would prefer their children not know certain details of their private lives.
No matter how long you have been married, times can get tough. You can file for divorce at any age and length of marriage. Let the Maryville divorce attorneys at Shepherd & Long, P.C. answer your questions about divorce and guide you through the process. Call our office at 865-982-8060 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation today. We proudly serve clients in Blount County and throughout East Tennessee.