Although many marriages stand the test of time, others fade away or crumble for any number of reasons. Divorce may become a couple’s best option, and the process may initially appear daunting. Even couples that are on relatively amicable terms often benefit from working with a knowledgeable Portland divorce attorney to ensure they obtain the financial security and solid foundation they need to move forward. In Oregon, the divorce process for long-term marriages typically requires greater attention to detail, as the couple has spent considerable time building a life together. This post will explore the additional considerations long-term marriages may require during the Oregon divorce process.
Defining Long-Term Marriage in Oregon
There is no set duration for determining what a ‘long-term marriage’ is in Oregon. That said, a marriage in Oregon lasting 15 years or longer will likely be considered ‘long-term’ by a court. Individuals in a long-term marriage often have amassed a larger and more complex set of marital assets than those in shorter marriages. People who have been married for longer have had more time to acquire a second home or rental property, share financial assets, or invest in stocks and securities. When they decide to dissolve their marriage, untangling these shared assets may take considerable time and attention to ensure an equitable distribution of assets.
Property Division in Divorces Involving Long-Term Marriages
The division of property aspect of the divorce process for couples who have only been married a few years tends to be relatively straightforward. When a couple is married for a year or two, they haven’t had much time or opportunity to commingle their finances or acquire joint property. In contrast, long-term marriages often require a more nuanced approach to the property division process. As an equitable distribution state, Oregon strives to ensure that marital property is distributed in a way that enables both parties to leave the marriage on a relatively even financial footing. In many circumstances, the court may look to award a piece of property to the spouse who initially acquired it, but over the extended period during a long-term marriage, the lines of ownership for property tend to blur and become less evident.
Spousal Support Considerations for Long-Term Marriages
Many long-term marriages involve spouses who have built a life together, with one spouse serving as the primary source of income for the couple or family. However, when the couple moves through the divorce process, the spouse who may have sacrificed a career to support the partnership in other ways (e.g., as a homemaker or stay-at-home parent) may require financial assistance to attend classes, pursue an education, or otherwise increase their employability and earning capacity. The court may determine that a spousal support award is necessary to ensure that both spouses exiting the long-term marriage can move forward and enjoy a solid financial foundation. Oregon courts recognize that a spouse often requires ongoing spousal support to continue enjoying a standard of living similar to the one they had during the marriage.
Retirement and Divorce for Long-Term Marriages
Divorces for older individuals can also be more complicated because of retirement and other savings plans. Long-term marriages often involve IRAs, 401(k) plans, military pensions, and other forms of retirement benefits, which need to be addressed during the divorce process. It can be challenging to envision how the divorce process will impact your retirement plans, so it is best to enlist the guidance of an experienced Portland divorce attorney as soon as possible to obtain a clearer picture of your financial future.
Additional Considerations for Divorcing Couples in Oregon
Those in long-term marriages who are seeking a divorce in Oregon should consider working with attorneys who understand the unique challenges of this complicated process. As you identify your divorce goals and develop a strategy for achieving your desired outcome, you should also acknowledge how this event will affect other aspects of your post-divorce life. For instance, long-term marriages may involve children (or even grandchildren). While these children may be grown adults, divorce can significantly alter family dynamics. Some long-term marriages involve spouses who have acquired a significant amount of wealth over the years, so working with attorneys who understand the specific needs of high-asset divorces is highly recommended.
Trusted Legal Guidance When You Need It Most
The divorce process presents challenges for every couple. Even spouses who are going through a divorce on friendly terms find themselves navigating minor issues and negotiating along the way. If you are considering a divorce in the Portland area, think about what qualities you value most in an attorney. Those coming out of a long-term marriage and those who have acquired a significant amount of marital property often need an attorney who can guide them through each phase of the divorce process. Make sure your attorney listens carefully to your concerns and goals. You are trusting your divorce lawyer with a very personal and important aspect of your life, so make sure they treat you with the care and compassion you deserve during this challenging time. Together, you can navigate the divorce process and move forward with greater clarity and confidence.
Call Kuzma Law, LLC, today at (503) 406-1787 to discuss your divorce goals with a trusted and friendly Portland attorney.