616-698-0000

4920 Broadmoor SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49512

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Dissolution of Long-term Marriage

Experienced Attorney for Dissolution of Long-term Marriage in Michigan

mano, contratto, accordo, recedereAttentive counsel for complex property and alimony disputes

Divorce can be especially complex for spouses who have been married for a long duration. Couples tend to accumulate wealth over time, complicating the process for distributing property. It may also be difficult to calculate the earning potential of a spouse who has spent a significant amount of time out of the workforce while raising the children. So, alimony becomes a highly speculative question. At the Van Den Heuvel Law Office, we have extensive experience with complex divorces. We’ve demonstrated capable management of the equitable distribution process for high net-worth couples, and we have a solid track record of obtaining fair spousal support orders. If you’ve made the decision to dissolve a long-term marriage, we can help you negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement or litigate disputes aggressively in court to protect your rights.

Length of marriage is a factor for determining property and support issues

In a marriage of long duration, one spouse tends to be the primary provider and the other the primary caregiver for the couple’s children. Even for two-career couples, this is often the case, as one spouse, usually the wife, takes time away from a career to raise children and then returns to the workforce when the children are sufficiently grown. This time away from work creates an imbalance in the amount the spouses have earned and what they might earn in the future. When the couple divorces, the stay-at-home spouse could be at a distinct disadvantage.

One of the factors Michigan law requires a court to consider is the amount a spouse has contributed to the acquisition, improvement or accumulation of property. By itself, this factor would lead to a decision greatly favoring the primary earner. However, there are balancing factors, such as:

  • Duration of the marriage — The longer a couple is married, the more likely a court is to favor a 50-50 split of their accumulated wealth and lifetime alimony.
  • Age of the parties — The older the couple, the less likely it is that the dependent spouse will successfully re-enter the workforce and earn enough to be self-sufficient at the standard of living the couple previously enjoyed.
  • Lifestyle and status of the parties — The court favors maintaining both spouses as near as possible to the standard of living they enjoyed prior to the divorce.
  • Necessities and circumstances of the parties — If one spouse has developed health problems that require expensive care, the other spouse should not be able to escape sharing those costs through divorce.
  • Past relations and conduct of the parties — If one spouse’s wasteful spending had been an issue during the marriage, that can affect the court’s view of the spouses’ relative property rights.
  • General principles of equity — The court does not want to see one spouse unjustly enriched and the other unfairly impoverished due to divorce.

A dependent spouse’s claim on a share of the primary earner’s 401(k) plan or other retirement assets is stronger in marriages of long duration. Social Security benefits are not divisible as marital assets, but a court can consider them for purposes of alimony.

Speak to family lawyers in Grand Rapids who manages dissolutions of long-term marriages

The legal team at the Van Den Heuvel Law Office has the experience necessary to negotiate marital settlements for long-term marriages. Call us at 616-698-0000 or contact our Grand Rapids office online to schedule your initial consultation. We are also available on Skype by appointment.