Does length of marriage affect divorce settlement?

First and foremost, it is important to refer to the legislation of the state on which you depend. There are some states in the US that treat property that was acquired during marriage as community property. The matrimonial property is then divided into two equal parts of 50/50 between the two parties during the dissolution of marriage.
But generally a distinction is made between property acquired before marriage and those acquired during marriage. So that they remain the property of the person who acquired them.

does length of marriage affect divorce settlement

How can the length of the marriage affect the settlement of a divorce?

In a divorce, the court will have to consider three main factors:
– How to share the goods so that the distribution is as fair as possible?
– How to include the duration of the marriage in the divorce settlement?
– How to define spousal support?

What is a equitable distribution?

Equitable distribution in divorce is about distributing marital property as fairly as possible. This distribution will have to be fair, which does not mean that it must be equal, or 50/50. The calculation of this distribution is subject to numerous criteria. In some states, this division of property division is not respected: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.


NB: There is no obligation to impose an equitable distribution. If the spouses have found an agreement to share their marital property that suits them, they will not be subject to this equitable distribution. But if a disagreement is made on part of the division of their property, then the court will intervene to distribute the undivided part.

How will the length of the marriage affect whether you receive spousal support?

  • What the duration of the marriage reveals to the judge, more than anything else, is how closely the spouses are linked and how difficult the distribution will be for the spouse without income or for the spouse with the lowest income.
  • The length of your marriage is one of the main factors that the court must take into account when filing for divorce. This is the basis for determining alimony / or spousal support and the division of marital property. The length of marriage has to do with how individuals are established in their particular standard of living, the longer the marriage the more settled.

Here is a table which summarizes the main information to remember:

Marriage <5 years
(Short term marriage)
Marriage close to 20 years (Considered long-term marriage)
Deadlines are fasterEnsure that both spouses maintain the same lifestyle
Less easy to get a 50-50 splitThe division can be higher than 50-50 depending on the elements that define the standard of living of the spouses
Study on the income and financial capacity of spousesEnsure that equity between the two spouses is respected
The financial breakdown is often pronounced by the judge (financial autonomy of the spouses)Spousal support may be ordered by the court

Long-term marriage: how is it going?

In a long-term marriage, it is common for one spouse to rely on the income and financial capabilities of the other spouse to maintain a certain standard of living that would not be possible as a single person.
The longer the marriage, the more likely it is that the court can go beyond a simple 50/50 division of property and instead allocate more of the marital property to one of the spouses for placement in a situation similar to his spouse.
After a long marriage, the court’s starting point in dividing the assets will be to maintain equity.

Short-term marriage

In the event of a short-term divorce application, the court is more likely to order an equal distribution of assets held in common. This is especially true in cases where both parties have been employed throughout the marriage.

Short childless marriage divorce settlements

The court can impose a financial severance order. Let’s take an example :

You have been married for 2 years, and you have no children, the court is more likely to find that you are financially independent. And that the principle of 50/50 distribution is not applied, especially if you are each financially independent because the needs of each spouse, their earning capacity and their financial contribution to the marriage will be taken into account. Only the goods acquired during the marriage can be studied for an equitable sharing.
In this case, the family court generally considers that an equal distribution of all the assets accumulated during the relationship is appropriate, but note that if the assets come from only one party, then it will be less easy to obtain a 50/50 equitable distribution.

What is spousal support?

When a married couple obtains a divorce, the court may grant “alimony”, which is intended to cover the running costs of the child or children. While spousal support for one of the former spouses is calculated on the basis of:

  • Either by agreement between the couple,
  • Or a decision of the court itself.
    Spousal support is not automatic, the judge decides it on a case-by-case basis and it will be separate from the division of matrimonial property.
what can wife claim in divorce

How is the amount of support determined?

The court has wide discretion in deciding whether to grant or refuse spousal support, as well as to define its duration and amount. The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, on which spousal support laws in many states are based, recommends that the court consider the following when making decisions about the payment of spousal support. husband:
• The age, physical condition, emotional state and financial situation of the ex-spouses,
• The time that the beneficiary would need to follow a training course in order to regain his autonomy,
• The couple’s standard of living during the marriage,
• The duration of the marriage (as mentioned above *, since it largely induces the operation of the divorce settlement)
• The ability of the condemned spouse to provide for the needs of her ex-husband while continuing to provide for his own needs.
• Alimony is often considered a “transitional period”, meaning that it is only ordered for as long as it takes for the ex-spouse to receive training or employment and become self-sufficient. If the divorce decree does not specify the end date of spousal support, payments must continue until the court decides otherwise.
• Most spousal support ends when the recipient remarries.
• If the payor dies, it is not necessarily automatic that spousal support ends. If the recipient spouse is unable to obtain gainful employment, (perhaps for reasons of age or health), the court may order that additional support be provided from the estate of the payer or proceeds of life insurance.

How long do you have to be married to split 50/50?

When it comes to dividing money and property after a divorce, a number of different factors are taken into account.
This criterion is set out in section 25 of the Marriage Causes Act 1973 and includes the financial resources available to each party:

  • Their age, the older the person, the more difficult it will be for them to find a salaried job
  • Their state of health,
  • Their income and earning capacity,
  • The standard of living of the marriage, etc.

The length of the marriage is also seen as an important factor to consider.
The court must rule according to its various criteria so that the distribution is as fair as possible. However, a fair distribution of matrimonial property does not mean an equal distribution, and therefore not necessarily 50/50.
In order for the sharing to be fair for both spouses, it must be determined that they have the same lifestyle. And that they will be able to keep the same possibilities as before the divorce (retired person, housewife) because in this specific case, it is more difficult to find a job, the question of balance and equity can then be established and it is then that beyond the 50/50 division, spousal support can be ordered by the court. Most child support orders are temporary, as we discussed above.
The spouse committed to paying this spousal support is only committed to paying this support for a period defined by the court order.
The court does not seek in a divorce settlement to systematize the 50/50 distribution and regardless of the length of the marriage, but it seeks the financial independence of both parties for the sake of fairness.

See our article on Everything about the Dissolution of Marriage.

You can see frequently asked questions about spousal support here.

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