Divorce After A Short Marriage: Gauge Your Expectations

In theory, it would seem that the shorter the marriage, the easier the divorce. However, this rule rarely applies. Divorce is never easy, and sometimes, shorter marriages make way for complex divorces. If divorce is the best resolve for your short-lived marriage, take the time to learn some important details.

The 50/50 Rule

Marriage is thought to be 50/50, so after a divorce, the expectation is that each party will walk away with half of their combined assets. However, this practice is less likely in shorter marriages, such as one that lasted 5 years or less. Traditionally, each party will walk away with whatever they came into the marriage with, and only jointly owned assets, acquired during the marriage, will be split.

Alimony Access

If receiving spousal support is the expectation, it is helpful to be prepared for the possibility of zero alimony or a reduced amount. Alimony essentially is designed to help the lesser earning individual sustain their way of living and needs, in terms of finances, as they were fulfilled during the marriage. For shorter marriages, unless there will be incredible hardship due to the loss of the higher-earning spouse's income, it is not likely to be awarded.

Fortified Prenup

A prenup is generally a solid, legal document. However, what is sometimes overlooked is that these documents often have an expiration date, such as 10, 15, or 20 years. Shorter marriages do not meet this benchmark. Therefore, if you entered into the marriage with a prenup and you divorce early, the terms of the prenup will likely stand uncontested. 

Child Support

Child support awards are based solely on the needs of the child. If a child was conceived during the marriage, the length of the relationship has no merit on each parent's financial responsibility to the child. The judge will review the child's needs, the custody terms, and each party's income to determine each person's contribution. 

Community Property Debts

If you reside in a community property state, your soon-to-be-ex spouse's debts can become your own. Community property states require that both assets and debts be shared during the divorce. Unfortunately, the length of the marriage does not matter. While you will not be obligated to pay for debts before the marriage, any debts your partner incurred during the marriage are on the table. 

Even if you do not suspect any issues with your divorce, it is always best to speak with an attorney to ensure you have everything sorted out and that you are protected. Reach out to an attorney like one at Ickes Holt to learn more.