In Michigan, an equitable distribution state, the divorce laws apply to all cases, whether you’re dealing with a short- or long-term marriage. That is, property is divided equitably. Child custody arrangements are guided by the best interests of the child. Spousal support is determined by one party’s need for assistance and the other spouse’s ability to pay.
That said, there are special considerations for cases involving longer marriages.
Social Security benefits
If the marriage lasted for a full 10 years prior to divorce, a nonworking former spouse age 62 or over may file for Social Security benefits based on the retired other spouse’s work history. Collecting this benefit doesn’t diminish the other spouse’s Social Security benefit in any way, and this entitlement holds even if the other spouse remarries (but not if the former spouse remarries).
Military divorce and the 10/10 rule
Per federal law, if a state court awards the former spouse of a military servicemember a percentage of the servicemember’s retirement pay as part of property division, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service will remit those funds directly to the former spouse if:
- The marriage lasted at least 10 years prior to the divorce, and
- The servicemember logged a minimum of 10 years’ duty during the term of marriage creditable towards retirement pay.
The award cannot exceed 50% of the servicemember’s total retired pay less court-martial ordered forfeitures, monies owed to the government, pay waivers related to VA disability, and Survivor Benefit Plan premiums already received by the former spouse.
The courts also factor in the length of the marriage when determining a spousal support award, but that’s a nuanced discussion which varies on a case-by-case basis.
Divorce is a complex journey, more so as time goes on, and navigating it is best supported by the guidance of counsel experienced in this area of the law.