Leaving a Marriage After 30 Years


Leaving a Marriage After 30 Years

While many marriages fail shortly after a couple marries, divorce after 30 years is fairly common too. A marriage breakdown after 30 years may be due to the empty nest syndrome, infidelity, different interests, retirement, or other reasons.  Some spouses just want their independence. Many older spouses experience a midlife crisis that causes them to leave a marriage after 30 years or more.

Older spouses have different priorities than younger spouses. Their economic and health situations are different. The factors that guide the division of their property and the entitlement to alimony are also different for spouses who have been married for a long-time compared to spouses in short-term marriages.

Key factors When Older Spouses Decide to Leave a Marriage After 30 Years

Surviving divorce after a long marriage requires considering other factors than those that a younger couple would consider. Older spouses need to consider:

  • They have only a certain number of years left – so spending years in litigation means losing a lot of valuable time. Older couples often consider mediation or collaborative divorce in order to expedite the divorce process. Leaving a marriage after 30 years may be a way to rejuvenate their lives.
  • They likely have valuable assets. Most couples who have been together for 30 years or more have a valuable marital home. They likely have sizeable bank accounts. What’s most different than when younger couples divorce is that the spouses likely have retirement accounts that may be near the time when they vest. Older spouses are also near the eligibility age for Social Security retirement benefits
  • Their children are likely to be adults. Parents divorcing after 30 years normally don’t have to focus on child custody or child support issues – unless a child has special needs. Some adult children may still need to live with their parents to make ends meet. On the other hand, some parents who have been married for at least 30 years may move into their children’s homes.
  • Health issues. Older spouses may have their own health issues. Even if they’re healthy, older spouses need to plan for the time when they may not be healthy. In addition, many older spouses need to care for parents who likely do have health problems. This means money and time needs to be set aside for health concerns.

Equitable Distribution When Leaving a Marriage After 30 Years

New Jersey divides marital property equitably. Spouses need to work with experienced New Jersey divorce lawyers to fully identify and value the marital property. In addition to the home and retirement benefits, many older spouses have a business that has substantial value.

Skilled lawyers work to identify which assets should be sold and which assets can be traded off against the assets of their spouse. Unlike younger couples and parents, selling a marital home may be more desirable since both spouses may want to downsize.

New Jersey does consider many equitable distribution factors that affect divorces after a long-term marriage. Some of these key factors are:

  • How long the spouses were married. Leaving a marriage after 30 years means the marriage was a long-term union.
  • The age, physical health, and emotional health of the spouses.
  • The standard of living the spouses established while they were married
  • The economic circumstances of each spouse
  • The ability of each spouse to earn an income. Older spouses generally have more difficulty acquiring new skills and being hired.
  • How much each spouse contributed to the education or ability to earn a living of the other spouse
  • The tax consequences

Alimony For Parents Divorcing After 30 Years

There are different types of alimony in New Jersey.

  • Rehabilitative alimony is generally used to help a spouse acquire educational skills and job training. Older spouses generally have either acquired the necessary employment skills or may conclude that it’s too late in life to go back to school. There are exceptions though. Many older people do start new careers.
  • Younger couples generally use reimbursement alimony to reimburse a spouse who helped fiancé the other spouse’s education or career.
  • Limited duration alimony is used by couples who have been married for less than 20 years. Limited durational alimony payments are for a specific time period.
  • Spouses who are leaving a marriage after 30 years or more may be eligible for open durational alimony. The goal of this type of alimony is to help ensure each spouse lives as close as possible to their lifestyle before the divorce. This type of alimony normally ends on either spouse’s death or the remarriage of the spouse seeking alimony.

Many of the alimony factors when spouses who are leaving a marriage after 30 years or more are the same as the equitable division of property factors. In addition, New Jersey family courts will factor in how the property was equitably divided

At DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law, our divorce lawyers represent spouses of all ages and all income levels. We understand how uniquely difficult each divorce is no matter how long you’ve been married. Our family lawyers fight to maximize your financial and emotional security. We also explain many of the practical issues involved with divorces by older spouses who may be leaving a marriage after 30 years. Call us at 908-691-2104 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment to discuss your divorce case. Our New Jersey offices are located in Clinton and Morristown.

Rosanne S. DeTorres
Ms. DeTorres is the managing partner and co-founder of DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law. She is also only one of 150 attorneys in the State of NJ that is certified by the NJ Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Law Attorney. Ms. DeTorres graduated...
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