Divorce After a Long-Term Marriage: Challenges and Considerations

According to USA Today, the divorce rate for couples over 55 has doubled since 1990. For couples 65 and older, the rate has tripled. What’s been called “gray divorce” is becoming more common, especially in Central Florida, which has a thriving retiree population. If you’re in the process or considering a divorce and you’re 55 or over, there are several things to consider. Learn more about the challenges of divorce after a long-term marriage here.  

What’s Considered a Long-Term Marriage?

Florida family courts give special considerations when determining property division and spousal support for long-term marriages. New timeframes went into effect in July 2023. A long-term marriage is now considered one that lasted over 20 years, according to Florida Statute 61.08(5). Short-term marriages are deemed marriages lasting less than ten years, and moderate-term marriages are between 10 and 20 years. Florida courts consider how long you’ve been married when determining equitable property division and spousal support. The longer you’ve been married, the more challenging dividing up your assets may become due to the length of time your assets were combined. 

Spousal Support

As stated above, how long you’ve been married impacts things like spousal support, also called alimony. Spousal support is a payment one spouse makes to the other to help the lesser-earning spouse transition from married to single life. Spousal support also allows a spouse to maintain a similar lifestyle to the one they enjoyed in marriage after divorce. The amount and duration of spousal support payments are determined by factors such as your marriage length, income, and contributions to the household. For instance, durational spousal support payments cannot exceed 75% of the length of marriage. 

Marital Property 

In Florida, all possessions deemed marital property are subject to equitable distribution in a divorce. Marital property is any asset acquired, purchased, used, or gained value during the marriage. Assets such as houses, cars, boats, retirement accounts, stocks, and life insurance plans are often considered marital property. Some assets could be regarded as partial marital property, such as businesses owned by one spouse that gained value throughout the marriage. In these cases, the asset’s value earned during the marriage is subject to equitable distribution. 

Equitable Property Division 

How marital property is divided is also a significant consideration when seeking divorce after a long-term marriage. Florida’s equitable distribution laws ensure that both spouses receive a fair share of the marital property, regardless of who initially purchased or used the item during the marriage. The distribution of marital property is based on how much each spouse benefited from the asset. Couples whose marriage lasted for several decades will have more marital assets, so determining what’s considered non-marital property is more challenging. This is because the longer the marriage lasts, the more likely both spouses maintained or contributed to the asset’s value.

Remsen Family Law Firm: Lake County Divorce Lawyer

Divorce for long-term marriages presents unique challenges and considerations, such as spousal support payments and equitable property division. Work with an experienced family law attorney like our team at the Remsen Family Law Firm to help settle your divorce fairly. Contact our office for a low-cost consultation to discuss your divorce case.