Without Minor Children
Married 1-7 Years
It’s just not working out, and you know it. There’s no sense waiting any longer, or letting it just drag out. You’ve devoted as much as you can to your marriage. It’s better to figure it out sooner rather than later, anyway.
Not every divorce is the same, but there are certain similar characteristics that we see in marriages that last roughly the same amount of time. Luckily for you, you probably still have some of your own separate property (things that you earned or acquired before the marriage), which is still separately yours. By now, though, you probably also have things that were earned, purchased, or accumulated the marriage (both assets and debt)–and those things will have to be divided. It’s important that you know what you’re entitled to under the law, so that you will be able to take care of your financial situation, and pave the way for the best new start possible.
You have come to the right place, and you’re asking the right questions. All divorces are different, so it’s impossible to predict ahead of time what your exact outcome will be. Still, we have seen enough cases like yours that we can discuss some of the things that we normally see. The biggest area where we see similarities in shorter term marriages is in spousal support.
Spousal support is complicated. If you’re planning on asking for spousal support, you’ll probably need to talk to an attorney relatively early on to find out whether you might be entitled to receive it–the shorter the marriage, the less likely an award of spousal support can be.
When attorneys and judges determine should receive spousal support, they are looking at three things: (1) need and ability to pay, (2) the statutory factors, and (3) the length of marriage.
The length of marriage has a lot to do with spousal support. Length of marriage helps to determine two things–whether you’ll receive support at all, and, if so you qualify, how long you’ll be entitled to receive it. The length of marriage is one of the statutory factors, but it’s important for another reason, too. Several years ago, the Virginia legislature heard a proposal to make length of marriage the chief factor in determining how long a person would receive support. The proposal did not pass, so it never became a law. Still, because of this proposal, it has become a presumption that most judges and attorneys consider when we determine spousal support.
Before you panic, remember that this is not law, and it’s not set in stone. It’s just a presumption. It’s entirely possible that you could get more support, but, on the other hand, it’s also possible that you could not qualify for spousal support at all.
The general presumption is that shorter term marriages don’t qualify to receive spousal support at all. Again, that doesn’t mean you won’t receive it. It happens sometimes that women who have been married a shorter period of time are able to get spousal support. It’s probably unlikely that you’ll get more than half the length of the marriage, though. Still, you should plan to talk to an attorney about your unique case, and, if there are any extenuating circumstances that demonstrate that you deserve to receive spousal support for a longer period of time, it’s a great time to start talking about it.
Every divorce is different, and yours is sure to present some unique issues. It’s always smart to have a talk with an attorney about your case, so that you can determine the best way to move forward with your divorce.
Married 8-19 Years
After devoting so much of yourself to your marriage, it’s hard to imagine a new future for yourself. So much of what you’ve earned was earned during the marriage, and it’s difficult to imagine it all being divided. There’s a lot at stake financially, and you want to make sure that you’re aware of all your entitlements.
All divorces are different, but longer marriages have certain things in common. One of the biggest areas where we see differences in longer term marriages (as opposed to shorter marriages) is spousal support. Keep in mind that your situation may be a little bit different, and it’s always a good idea to talk to a divorce and custody attorney about your unique circumstances, and how Virginia law might apply.
Spousal support is a complex area of Virginia law, so you’ll probably need to talk to an attorney to discuss your options, and whether you’ll actually qualify to receive it. When attorneys and judges talk about spousal support, especially when they are analyzing whether a person would qualify to receive it, they are looking at three main points: (1) need verus ability to pay, (2) the statutory factors, and (3) the length of marriage.
The length of marriage really matters when it comes to spousal support determinations, because it helps judges and attorneys determine two things–whether you’ll receive support at all, and, if so, for how long. If you read the statute, you’ll see that the length of marriage is one of the factors listed that affects spousal support, but it’s important for another reason, too. Several years back, the legislature heard a proposal to make a law about the length of marriage and spousal support. The proposal did not pass, but, because of that law, length of marriage has become an important determining factor when it comes to spousal support. It’s not a law, because it didn’t pass, but length of marriage is a presumption that helps lawyers and attorneys determine what is appropriate.
Remember, though, that this is NOT law, so it’s not set in stone. It’s just a presumption, which means that it’s possible to get less, it’s possible to get more–and, depending on your unique situation, it’s possible that you won’t qualify to receive spousal support at all. However, the general presumption is that marriages of this length can qualify to receive support for roughly half the length of the marriage. You should plan to talk to an attorney about your unique case, and, if there are any extenuating circumstances that entitle you to receive support for a longer period of time, you should certainly mention those to your attorney at that time.
All divorces are different, so your specific circumstances may entitle you to receive something else entirely. It’s important to meet with an attorney, whether you choose to move forward with or without an attorney, just to get an idea of what the issues are in your case, so that you can make an informed decision that takes your financial future into account.
Married 20+ Years
There’s a lot at stake in your marriage after twenty years or more, especially since you have so many shared assets and investments. At this stage in the game, every little bit helps–you’ll have some time post-divorce to rebuild, but a good bit of the retirement planning you’ve done up until this point is going to have to build the foundation for your after-divorce life, too.
Long term marriages present a lot of unique issues. You and your husband have been together for a long time, so now almost everything that you own is marital property. It’s a little more complicated to separate everything. Just think about all your joint assets and liabilities: you own real estate, retirement accounts, furniture, cars, bank accounts, investments, and probably lots more.
Long term marriages are different from short term marriages in lots of ways. Probably the biggest difference we see between short and long term marriage is in the area of spousal support. We’ll talk a little bit about how spousal support works in a long term marriage, but keep in mind that no two divorces are exactly the same, and it’s always a good idea to talk to an attorney to figure out how the law might apply in your specific situation.
To determine whether you’ll receive spousal support, and for how long, you have to look at three things: (1) need and ability to pay, (2) the statutory factors, and (3) the length of marriage. The first two factors, need versus ability to pay and the statutory factors, help determine whether an award of spousal support would be made. The third factor, length of marriage, is the most important, because it determines two things: (1) whether an award of spousal support would be made, and (2) how long spousal support could be received.
The last prong of the test, length of marriage, is the most important. Because your marriage is long term, it does support an award of spousal support (assuming, of course, that the other two prongs of the test have been met).
The length of your marriage matters a lot when it comes to determining how long your award of spousal support should be. Most Virginia judges and lawyers would agree that a long term marriage probably warrants a spousal support award (though, you should note that this is not the law, just a presumption) of between half the length of the marriage to permanent spousal support.
Of course, all divorces are different, and your case may present unique issues that affect spousal support. Because there is so much at stake financially, it’s important that you talk to a licensed Virginia divorce and custody attorney and come up with a custom tailored plan designed to help protect your assets.