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Young and divorcing? How you can prepare

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2021 | Divorce And Dissolution |

We all know that divorcing after decades of marriage brings many challenges. However, so can divorcing after just a few years of marriage. A relatively short marriage does not necessarily equate to an easy divorce.

If you are in your 20’s or 30’s and are getting divorced after being married for a relatively short time, you are still facing the complications of untangling your finances and perhaps also trying to minimize the stress on your young children.

Spousal support

Generally speaking, payment of spousal support from one spouse to the other is more likely in long-term marriages. With that said, spousal support is sometimes appropriate even in shorter-term marriages. If divorcing spouses are relatively new in their respective careers and still working to build wealth, there may not be a need or an ability to pay support. However, even in some shorter-term marriages, one spouse may have left the workforce and therefore has not had career advancements in order to pursue other endeavors, such as raising young children. In those cases, especially where there is a large disparity in the spouses’ earning abilities, spousal support may be a factor.

Property division

When it comes to dividing the couple’s assets, sometimes younger people may end up having more liabilities than they have assets. This is not unusual in these times, where many 20- and 30-year-olds are working to dig their way out from student loan debt and credit card debt. Even if that is the case, the divorce agreement must state which spouse is to be responsible for which debts. Generally, if one spouse incurred a debt prior to the marriage, that spouse will continue to be responsible for that debt. However, debts that either spouse incurred after the marriage may end up being divided between the spouses.

With very few exceptions, even if a young couple has significant debt, they will still have assets that must be addressed as part of their divorce agreement. This would include bank accounts, retirement accounts, vehicles, and household furnishings including wedding gifts.

Child custody

Determining the custody arrangements for children can be a contentious issue, particularly when children are very young. A parenting agreement between divorcing parents of an infant will need to be quite different from a parenting agreement between divorcing parents of a teenager. When children are younger, some important decisions about their upbringing may not have been made by the parents by the time of the divorce. For example, if the children are not yet school-aged, the parents will need to determine where they plan for the children to attend school. With a junior in high school, that issue is less likely to be a contentious one.

Pet custody

In recent years, there has been a noticeable rise in divorcing couples who wish to continue to share time with their pet. This seems to be related to the decision of some young couples to wait to have children until a bit later in life, and these couples instead have pets.  Generally speaking, the courts treat pets as property rather than akin to children. For this reason, many divorcing couples wish to create their own custody plan for their beloved pet.

The road to divorce

The divorce process may look very different for parties who are in their 20s or 30s compared to those who are 50 or older. In some ways, it can be faster and more straightforward; in other ways, it can be just as complicated.

Understanding how and why your divorce may be different than a parent’s or friend’s divorce is important. Assuming that your divorce will have the same complications as a friend’s can sometimes cause unnecessary stress. Talking with an experienced family law attorney can help you to understand what to expect, which is especially important during a time of so much uncertainty.