• A short term marriage is a marriage duration of 5 years or less.
  • Defining a short marriage divorce is important because it can affect your divorce settlement agreement.
  • Here's why mediation is the best option for a divorce after short marriage.

When you said your wedding vows and married "the one," you never thought you’d find yourself reading this type of article just a few years later. And yet, unfortunately, here you are.

“Better to find out now before you have kids.” 

Your friends say.

“Don’t worry, there’s someone even better out there for you.” 

Your parents tell you.

"Cheer up, things will get better."

Your co-workers claim.

Sure, they’re trying to be helpful, but they don’t understand a divorce after 5 years of marriage or another short duration is still emotionally devastating.

And even though you're hurting, angry, and might be tempted to hire a lawyer to exact revenge on your soon-to-be ex-spouse, you're smart enough to know it's a very bad idea.

Instead, you want to find a better short marriage divorce option that doesn't involve litigation lawyers or court. And won't destroy you or your spouse in the process.

Let’s take a closer look at short term marriage divorce, and why mediation is the best option for a fair and cost-effective settlement.

What is a Short Marriage in Divorce?

divorce-after-a-short-marriage-emsSome people may refer to what you and your spouse have as a “test drive marriage.”

Or “starter marriage.”

Kind of insulting, isn’t it?

It’s not like you got married only to purposely get divorced a few years later, did you?

Of course not!

And just because divorce after short marriage is more common these days, it doesn’t mean it hurts any less. Or is any less complicated than divorce after 10 years of marriage or more.


How is a Short Term Marriage Divorce Defined?

Is it divorce after 2 years of marriage?

Divorce after 3 years of marriage?

Divorce after 6 years of marriage?

Or something else?

Well, it really varies greatly from state-to-state.

But in my opinion, it's a marriage that ends in divorce after 5 years or less.


Because it's usually around the 5-year mark that spouses tend to fully co-mingle assets, start accumulating joint property and debt, and have children.


Why Defining a Short Marriage is Important

short-marriage-divorce-emsAs you know, how long you're married has little to do with how painful divorce can be.

I’ve personally known couples who divorced after a very short time. And spent more time fighting in court and mourning the loss of their marriage than they did actually being married.

But it's important to define a short term marriage.

  • Divorce settlements could be impacted if there are certain laws or statutes in your home state. For example, how long alimony or spousal support will be paid. Or if you even qualify for alimony at all.
  • You may also have other legal entanglements which form over time such as wills or making each other beneficiaries on retirement plans.
  • You need to know where to draw the line between separate property / pre-marital property and debts versus marital property and debts.
  • And define at what point you consider your assets and liabilities to be joint and subject to equitable distribution or community property (depending on the state you live in.)

These are just a few of the many topics that need to be discussed in divorce after a short duration marriage.


Is a Short Marriage Divorce Settlement Simpler?

You might think that a divorce settlement is simpler if it's for a shorter term marriage. Especially if there are no children involved because there's no need to create a parenting plan, and there's no child custody or child support to resolve.

But oddly enough, they can be even more difficult than a long term one!

Here's an example of what I’m talking about:

Let’s say you and your spouse have been married 3 years and you just bought a house.

You saved your money, found a nice starter home, and then put $25,000 worth of renovations into it.

Now you find yourself heading towards divorce after 3 years of marriage. Are you really going to want to sell that home at a loss?

And given that you just bought the house and invested money into it, are you going to be able to afford to run it on your own?

Or buy out your spouse's interest?


Here’s another example:

To knock off your student loan debt, you and your spouse decided one of you would throw all your extra cash onto both of your loans, while the other put as much money away for retirement as possible.

Someone with a good job and no student debt to pay down may be able to sock away some serious coin.

And be at a significant advantage at retirement.

Sure, lowering student debt is a good thing and takes care of the here and now. But retirement funds compound over time...

And, if your spouse has all the retirement funds, they will definitely come out ahead in the future.

Finally, in a long-term marriage, the asset and liability pool is easier to define.

After a while, (most) everything becomes marital property. And is subject to distribution in divorce.

In my experience, there is less arguing over who gets what in divorce after a long term marriage.

In divorce after a shorter duration marriage, it's not as easy to say. And things aren't always as clear as you'd like them to be on these types of issues.


In Divorce After Short Marriage, Emotions Can Run Hot!

In addition to misunderstandings around divorce financial entitlement, the emotional aspects can also make things challenging!

In longer-term marriages, it's more common that both spouses are aware that their relationship has broken down and have known this for a long time.

So by the time one spouse decides to divorce, it's not much of a surprise to the other spouse. And they are more likely to be on the same page about moving forward.

But in a short term marriage, when one spouse announces they want a divorce, it's often a tremendous shock to the other spouse.

Anger, disappointment, and resentment are common emotions in these situations.

As well as an increased risk that divorce proceedings will become adversarial.


Short Marriage: Divorce Mediation


As you’ve now learned, a divorce settlement isn't as easy to create as you might think.

And the emotions surrounding divorce after a shorter term marriage can be intense!

That's why divorce litigation can make things worse!

You could potentially wind up spending more time in court divorcing than you did being married.

And spend more money to get that divorce, than you spent on your entire wedding!

Divorce mediation is a better option!

No long, drawn-out fights.

No expensive courtroom drama.

And no lawyers, if you so choose.

Each party (you and your spouse) and your expert mediator will work together to resolve all required divorce issues (property division, alimony, and if you have children, a parenting plan, and child support.)

And create a customized settlement agreement that you both find fair and that addresses your unique situation.


Divorce After 5 Years of Marriage or Less Doesn’t Have to Be a Disaster!


If you want a fair divorce that doesn't take forever, cost a fortune, or be filled with drama, choose Equitable Mediation.

If you and your spouse live in New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, California, Washington State, or Michigan, learn about the benefits of working with us.

Then, when you are ready to start the divorce process, take the next step and book a mediation strategy session for the two of you!

Book a Mediation Strategy Session



Other Useful Resources:

Joe Dillon, Divorce Mediator

Written by Joe Dillon, Divorce Mediator

Joe Dillon is a divorce mediator and founder of Equitable Mediation. He holds a master’s degree in finance, and has completed formal training in negotiation and mediation from Harvard University, MIT, Northwestern University (Chicago, Illinois campus), the NJ Association of Professional Mediators, the Institute for Continuing Legal Education, the Academy of Professional Family Mediators and the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysis. As a child, Joe witnessed first-hand the damage of attorney-driven litigation during his parents' divorce. And in 2008, he set out to offer divorcing couples a more peaceful and dignified alternative. Throughout his professional career, Joe has helped over a thousand couples reach a fair and equitable divorce agreement - out of court.