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Does the length of my marriage affect my divorce settlement?

By , on Friday April 19, 2024 at 3:19 pm

The length of your marriage will have an impact on your divorce settlement. Generally speaking, the longer you are married, the more likely it is that your divorce settlement will be closer to an equal division of your assets.

However, it is also important to keep in mind that the length of your marriage is not the only factor which will determine how your financial assets will be divided.

Divorce settlements are also defined by factors such as your respective ability to generate income, your present and future needs, the contributions you have made during marriage and the needs of any children.

Understanding what you are entitled to in a divorce settlement has the potential to be very complex and can often be a source of conflict between you and your former partner. Our expert divorce solicitors can provide the support you need when it comes to divorce settlements, ensuring that you are able to achieve a positive outcome.

What constitutes a long marriage?

Defining what constitutes a ‘long’ marriage is somewhat difficult. There is no definitive legal description of a long marriage, which means that it is usually up to the court’s discretion to determine this on a case-by-case basis. Generally speaking, marriages over 20 years will be considered long and marriages of five years or less will be considered short. There is a grey area about what constitutes a longer term marriage which is likely to continue to change as the average length of marriages does.

Does it affect my divorce settlement if I’ve been married longer?

According to the Matrimonial Clauses Act 1973, “the age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage” will be considered by the courts if they become involved in determining a divorce settlement.

So, you can naturally expect that the divorce settlement will be higher for 30 years of marriage compared to if you have only been married for two years.

Will a divorce settlement be different for a short-term marriage?

Yes. Short-term marriage divorce settlements tend to be determined based primarily on the capital contributions of each party, rather than an equal (in some cases 50:50) split of the assets.

Completing a form E is often the most effective method whether there’s a court application or not.

How long do you have to be married to get half of everything?

It is important to stress that a 50:50 split in a divorce settlement is often a starting point for negotiations. An even division of assets is not always the final outcome, even if you have been in a long-term marriage.

It is more likely that you will achieve ‘half’ in a divorce where you have been married for a longer period of time, but this will also be weighed up against various other factors which are likely to affect your position in both the present and future.

So, whether you have divorced after 35 years or divorced after 1 year, you are not guaranteed to achieve an even split in a divorce settlement. It depends on the context of your relationship and separation.

What assets will be included in a divorce settlement?

All aspects of your finances will be considered when it comes to deciding who gets what in a divorce settlement.

This will typically include:

  • Capital assets and debts
    • Properties
    • Shares
    • Savings
    • Investments
    • Existing debt (individual and shared as a couple)
  • Pensions
  • Businesses
  • Financial support
    • Child maintenance
    • Spousal maintenance
  • Vehicles

If you and your former partner are making an application to the court to decide on the details of your divorce settlement, you both need to complete a Form E financial disclosure document.

Completing a Form E document is often the most effective method of gathering all the information needed to reach a fair divorce settlement and establish what you and your former partner will be entitled to receive.

What other factors determine a financial settlement?

As already discussed, the length of a marriage is not the only factor which will influence the way a divorce settlement is handled. Other factors which you will need to consider include:

  • The current and future earning capacity of each party
  • Any childcare arrangements
  • Contributions made during the marriage, both financial and otherwise (such as childcare)
  • Standard of living and ongoing living expenses
  • The property and assets available to be split (including things like pensions, businesses, savings and investments

If you cannot make a voluntary agreement, even after various rounds of negotiations, a judge will be called upon to make a decision. They will review your circumstances in detail and consider all of the assets at play.

Our solicitors are here for you

If you are unsure about what you could be entitled to in a divorce settlement, or you need clarification on how the length of your marriage is likely to affect your negotiations, our expert family law solicitors will be able to lend their support.

We understand how stressful divorce settlements can be, particularly as they can often prove to be a common source of contention. Our experts are here to make sure you clearly understand your position and what a fair settlement would look like so you can secure an outcome that meets your needs and those of your loved ones.

For advice on agreeing on a fair divorce settlement or help to make the settlement legally binding, take advantage of your free 30-minute consultation with our expert divorce financial settlement solicitors by calling 0800 321 3832 or completing our quick online form.

Karen Willis
Family law solicitor King’s Lynn

Blog Author - Karen Willis

Karen WillisKaren Willis

Karen is a family law solicitor based in King’s Lynn, North Norfolk. Karen has over 20 years’ experience in family law


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