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What About Us? Divorcing Couples Who Don’t Have Children – Part 3

{4:30 minutes to read}

What About Us? Divorcing Couples Who Don’t Have Children - Part 3 by Ada HasloecherPart 2 of this series was concerned with couples who have only been married for 1-3 years. In this part, we look at lengthier marriages, lasting 3-10 years.

Married for 3-10 years:

You may think that these couples are similar to couples who have been married for a short time but that is not generally the case. While often these couples do keep their financial arrangements separate and may waive their rights to each other’s investment and retirement accounts, there are some complicating matters that surface given the years of marriage, the co-mingling of monies and the various emotional issues that arise due to the length of their relationship (both the married years and those that preceded it).

On the financial end, sometimes they do have a joint bank account for the purposes of funding the marital home. They typically deposit some of their respective incomes into this account to pay the bills on the house. There is usually more of an emotional investment (blood, sweat and tears) in the marital home and if one spouse wants to hold onto it and buy the other out, we discuss the mechanisms by which this could be done. But what if:

  1. The one who wants to keep the house is not in a financial position to do so?
  2. The other spouse needs the money from a buyout or a sale in order to fund his/her new home and doesn’t want to wait for a period of time to allow for the other spouse to qualify for refinancing?
  3. They have joint debt on one or more credit cards, although the cards may only be in one spouse’s name. What happens with the payment of the debt when they agree that it’s associated with improvements or repairs on the marital home?
  4. Who keeps the dog? What if the one moving out of the marital home wants to keep the dog (it may be his or hers from prior to the marriage) but the co-op or condo complex they are moving into doesn’t allow pets?

And what about the emotional issues surrounding a couple who have been married this long (or longer)? Their situation is very different than those with a truly short-term marriage. Often they may have known each other for a long time – perhaps they were high school or college sweethearts. Maybe they lived together before tying the knot. There is much more of an emotional investment in the relationship and for whatever reason brought them to my office, there is often a deep sadness about the parting.

Because we’re not dealing with all the myriad topics that we do when couples have children, these mediations can also be brief in time – perhaps one or two sessions at the most. What I find, however, is that if it takes so little time to accomplish our work together, a sort of “Is that all there is?” component crops up in the mediation. Somehow it doesn’t feel right to them that all the years of their relationship can be captured in a one or two hour meeting. These couples will sometimes take a break after the initial meeting, and call me weeks or months later to finish up. The head and the heart have to be reconciled before they can bring closure.

In the final part of this series, we will look at both Category 3, Married 10+ Years, and Category 4, Couples with no children together, but possibly children from a former marriage, making one spouse a step-parent.

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Ada L. Hasloecher

Divorce Mediator / Center Founder
Divorce & Family Mediation Center, LLC
Phone: 631-585-5210
eMail: Info@DFMCLI.com
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