Divorces: Long-Term vs. Short-Term Marriages

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Divorces: Long-Term vs. Short-Term Marriages
Written By: Josh Lowell ~ 6/26/2023


When it comes to divorce proceedings, the duration of the marriage can play a significant role in the legal considerations and outcomes. Resolving a divorce case for a short-term marriage differs from that of a long-term marriage in several aspects. Read more below for information pivotal to understand how your case might be handled.

Short-Term Marriages:

A short-term marriage is generally defined as a union that lasted for a relatively brief period. While there is no defined value, less than five years is a pretty good indicator. In such cases, the legal process of divorce may involve specific factors that differ from long-term marriages.

Division of Assets: In Washington State, the court's approach to property division is typically guided by the principle of equitable distribution. However, with shorter marriages, the accumulation of significant assets is often limited. As a result, the division of marital assets may be less complex compared to long-term marriages.

Spousal Support: Alimony, or spousal support, is often not a significant factor in short-term marriages. Courts are generally less inclined to award long-term spousal support when the duration of the marriage has been relatively short. However, temporary or rehabilitative spousal support may be considered to provide financial assistance during the transition period.

Parenting Plans: If children are involved, the court's primary focus will be on determining custody arrangements and creating a parenting plan that serves the best interests of the child. Even in short-term marriages, the well-being and needs of the children are prioritized.

Long-Term Marriages:

Long-term marriages, especially those lasting greater than twenty years, bring about additional complexities and considerations during divorce proceedings.

Community Property Division: Washington State follows the community property principle, meaning that marital assets acquired during the marriage are generally divided equally between spouses. In long-term marriages, the accumulation of assets and debts is often more substantial, requiring a more comprehensive assessment and division process.

Spousal Support: Long-term marriages may involve the potential for long-term or permanent spousal support. The court considers various factors such as the duration of the marriage, the parties' standard of living, earning capacities, and contributions made during the marriage when determining the need and duration of spousal support. For very long-term marriages, support may even be permanent.

Retirement Benefits: Long-term marriages may involve complex issues related to the division of retirement benefits. Pensions, 401(k) accounts, and other retirement assets accumulated during the marriage may be subject to division, requiring careful evaluation and appropriate legal guidance.

Emotional Considerations: The longer the duration of the marriage, the deeper the emotional ties between the spouses. Emotional and psychological factors may come into play during the divorce process, requiring sensitivity and support to address the parties' needs.

How should you proceed with your divorce?

Resolving a divorce lawsuit in Washington State involves different considerations depending on the duration of the marriage. While short-term marriages may involve less complex property division and spousal support issues, long-term marriages often require a more comprehensive evaluation of assets, retirement benefits, and the potential for long-term spousal support. Regardless of the duration, the well-being of children remains a significant focus in both scenarios.

If you are considering or going through a divorce, it is crucial to seek guidance from an experienced Washington State family law attorney. They can provide personalized advice, navigate the complexities of property division and support, and advocate for your best interests throughout the process, regardless of the duration of your marriage. Call the law offices of Magnuson Lowell PS for a free telephone case evaluation.

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