3 Things Couples Leaving A Long-Term Marriage Need To Keep In Mind

Getting divorced after many years of marriage may be unexpected -- but divorce can (and does) happen in all age groups, after any number of years of marriage. While the process of a divorce after a long marriage is just the same as the process of a divorce after just a few years of marriage, your concerns are likely going to be very different.

Here's what you need to keep in mind about divorce after many years of marriage:

1. Child support is no longer a worry, but alimony might be a big concern.

Child support is often a concern when young couples with children split up. The odds are high that if you're several decades into a marriage that child support is no longer a concern. However, spousal support (alimony) may be an important consideration.

It's not uncommon, especially among older couples, for the husband to be the primary earner, while the wife mostly takes care of the home. Even if you worked a variety of jobs over the years to help make ends meet, the odds are good that your career ambitions may have been sidelined in favor of your spouse's while you deferred your own goals until after the kids were grown. 

That puts you at an economic disadvantage when you're suddenly on your own. While alimony isn't as common as it once was, it's still appropriate in many cases when older couples divorce.

2. You may have many more assets to divide.

Young couples frequently have less to divide when they get a divorce than couples who have commingled their finances for decades. Aside from your home, you may have to find out what sort of investments you have, look into stocks, and figure out how to split the retirement funds that you both were counting on in the future.

If you're hoping to receive retirement funds from your spouse's pension after a divorce, make sure that your divorce attorney knows how to prepare a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) for the court. Otherwise, you could find yourself shut out of the funds, no matter what your divorce says.

3. You may have more end-of-life concerns to address.

Depending on your age, you may need to make a lot of changes to another set of documents: your will and powers of attorney for healthcare and finances. The odds are high that you won't want your spouse to feature prominently in any of those after your divorce, so it's important to understand all of the changes you need to make. Divorce doesn't negate the terms of your will or a power of attorney that you've granted. The documents all need to be rewritten.

If you're ready to take a step toward a new future at any age, a divorce lawyer can assist you.