April 30, 2022

Length of the Marriage Counts – A Lot

Length of the Marriage Counts – A Lot

When it comes to alimony and property division, Connecticut statutes list fourteen factors for the judge to consider.  As I have said in prior columns, the factors can be weighted as the judge considers appropriate in the circumstances.  Among the factors “length of the marriage” is almost always important.

“Length of the marriage” means just that.  Only how long actually married counts.  The length of the relationship, the engagement, or cohabitation or time having and raising children, dating or having sex together before the date of the marriage don’t count.

For alimony, there is no rule that says a spouse doesn’t get alimony if the marriage is too short or that a spouse must get alimony if the marriage exceeds a certain number of years.  The amount of alimony, if any, circumstances when it can be modified and duration depend on all the factors.  But they are heavily influenced by length of the marriage.  For example, typically, subject to impact of the other factors, alimony wouldn’t be for longer than one-half the length of the marriage.

Similarly, there isn’t a formula that dictates the division of assets and liabilities based on the length of the marriage.  As with alimony, the judge must consider the other statutory factors.  But length of the marriage is especially important.  Generally, the longer the marriage the closer to equal is the division.  On the other hand, for a short term one or two-year marriage, the spouses would likely get what each brought to the marriage.

There are rules that affect entitlements to governmental benefits based on the length of the marriage.  Unlike Connecticut divorce law, many of these depend upon the marriage lasting a specific minimum number of years.  For example, social security and, as I explained in last month’s column, military sponsored health care. 

Working with an experienced family lawyer can help to maximize the financial outcome.  Sometimes strategic planning and timing, or even a legal separation in anticipation of a divorce, can add value with little cost.

Thank you to RJ Media for first publishing this article in the March 3, 2022 edition of The Cheshire Citizen.

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