Getting Divorced After a Long-Term Marriage: Things to Consider

Getting Divorced After a Long-Term Marriage: Things to Consider

By: Gordon & Perlut, LLC

If you have been married to your spouse for decades and you are now considering divorce, you are likely to encounter distinct issues that parties who have been married for a much shorter time will not need to take into account.

While there are many things to consider when you are planning for divorce after a long-term marriage, we want to discuss a couple of key issues with you. And if you have questions or concerns, you should always seek advice from an experienced divorce attorney.

Spousal Maintenance May Be Awarded Permanently

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), if one of the parties seeks spousal maintenance, the court will go through a two-step process. It will first determine whether spousal maintenance is appropriate and then will consider the amount and duration of the support award. For most parties, spousal support (also described as maintenance or alimony) is calculated — assuming the court decides alimony is appropriate given the circumstances of the case — by subtracting 25 percent of the receiving spouse’s income from 33 percent of the paying spouse’s income. Then, the court will determine the duration of the alimony based on the length of the marriage.

The longer the marriage has lasted, the longer the duration of the spousal maintenance payment. For example, if a couple has been married for 10 years, the maintenance award is for 4.4 years. Once a couple has been married for 15 years, maintenance is awarded for 6.4 years. A 19-year marriage will result in a maintenance award with a duration of 8 years. If a divorcing couple has been married for 20 years or more, permanent maintenance can be awarded.

Preparing for Retirement Could Be More Difficult

Most couples who have been in long-term marriages are older adults, often around the age of retirement. For many parties in long-term marriages, most if not all their retirement benefits will be classified as marital property and will be subject to distribution in the divorce. If both spouses worked equally during the marriage and earned similar retirement benefits and have ended up with similar retirement investments, property division might not be as significant an issue.

However, for many older adults who are getting divorced, one of the spouses was the primary earner during the marriage and thus is likely the party with the larger retirement investments. If those retirement accounts are classified as marital property, they will be subject to division and will be divided in such a way the court decides is fair to both spouses.

It is much more difficult to build up retirement accounts again if you are close to retirement age or you have recently retired. You may need to make contingency plans for retirement if you will be divorcing after a long-term marriage.

Learn More from a Chicago area Divorce Attorney

Divorce after a long-term marriage can be especially complicated, but you should know that one of the Chicago divorce lawyers at our firm can help you with your case. Contact Gordon & Perlut, LLC for more information about the services we provide to clients in the Chicago area.