The definition of a short term marriage is a marriage duration of 5 years or less.
Defining what is a short term marriage is important because it can affect your divorce settlement agreement.
Here's why mediation is the best option for a short marriage divorce.
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 divorce after 5 years of marriage or other short marriages durations are 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 lawyers or court. And won't destroy you or your spouse in the process.
Let’s take a closer look at short term marriages and divorce, and why mediation is the best option for a fair and cost-effective settlement.
What is a Short Marriage in Divorce?
Some people may refer to what you and your spouse have as a “test drive marriage.”
Or “starter marriages.”
Kind of insulting, isn’t it? It’s not like you got married only to find yourself getting divorced a few years later, did you?
Of course not!
And just because divorce after short marriages are more common these days, it doesn’t mean they hurt any less. Or are any less complicated than ones that end in divorce after 10 years of marriage or more.
How is a Short Term Marriage Defined?
So what is a short marriage when it comes to divorce, anyway?
Is it divorce after 2 years?
Divorce after 3 years?
Well, it really varies greatly from state-to-state.
But in my opinion, it's one that ends in divorce after 5 years of marriage, or less.
Because it's usually around the 5 year mark where spouses tend to fully co-mingle assets, start accumulating joint property and debt and have children.
Why Defining "What is a Short Term Marriage" is Important
As you know, how long you're married has little to do with how painful a divorce can be.
I’ve personally known couples who divorced after a very short time (2 years). And spent more time fighting in court and mourning the loss of their marriage than they did 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.
These are just a few of the many things that need to be discussed when talking about divorce after short marriages.
Are Short Term Marriage Divorce Settlements Simpler?
You might think that a divorce settlement is simpler if it is for a shorter term marriage. Especially if there are no children involved because there's no parenting plan, 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 home and invested money into it, are you going to be able to afford 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 simpler to understand.
After a while, everything pretty much becomes marital property. And subject to distribution in divorce. In my experience, there is less arguing over who gets what in a long term marriage.
In a short marriage divorce situation, not as easy to say. And things aren't always as clear as you'd like them to be on these types of issues.
Short Marriage: Divorce Mediation
As you’ve now learned, short term marriage divorce settlements aren’t as easy to create as you’d expect. And you already know if you involve divorce attorneys, things can get even messier.
You could potentially wind up spending more time in court divorcing than you did being married.
How messed up would that be?!
The good news is, you are right in thinking there has to be a better way.
For a divorce after 5 years of marriage or any other short marriage, divorce mediation is the best way for you and your spouse to efficiently and cost-effectively go your separate ways.
No long, drawn-out fights. No expensive courtroom drama. And no lawyers necessary.
Each party (you and your spouse) and your expert mediator will work together to resolve all issues necessary for you to get a divorce including property division (equitable distribution or community property depending on the state you live in) and alimony. And create a customized settlement that it is fair to both of you. And that takes into account your unique financial situation.
Have pre-marital assets you want excluded from the divorce?
Divorce mediation can address that.
Have a house you aren’t quite ready to sell yet because you'd take a loss? Want to co-own it for some period of time?
Mediation can address that, too.
In fact, for divorce after short marriages, mediation can handle any issue that comes up for the parties. It truly is the best way for couples in a short term marriage to go about getting a divorce.
Divorce After 5 Years of Marriage or Less Doesn’t Have to Be a Disaster!
Mediate with us instead!
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 an initial meeting for the two of you!
Joe Dillon, MBA is a professional divorce mediator and founder of Equitable Mediation Services. Joe is passionate about helping couples avoid the destruction of attorney-driven litigation and specializes in helping couples resolve the issues required for divorce -peacefully, fairly and cost-effectively. When he’s not mediating, you can find him exercising, cooking, and watching Cubs baseball.