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Divorce after short term marriage

Many people get married too quickly, and then worry about losing everything they worked for before the marriage in their divorce. With a good lawyer at your side, don’t worry:

Marriages of less than seven years are usually called “marriages of short duration,” In a long term marriage, the Court is supposed to generally divide all the assets roughly equally. But in a short term marriage, different rules apply,

Those rules were set out by the Tennessee Court of Appeals in a case called Batson v. Batson. Link: In Batson, the parties had been married about seven years and had separated after approximately six years of marriage.

The Batson Court said:

“A trial court's division of marital property is to be guided by the factors contained in Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-4-121(c). However, an equitable property division is not necessarily an equal one. It is not achieved by a mechanical application of the statutory factors, but rather by considering and weighing the most relevant factors in light of the unique facts of the case.

This means that Courts have discretion to do something other than dividing property equally.

Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-4-121(c)(1) permits trial courts to consider the duration of the marriage. In cases involving a marriage of relatively short duration, it is appropriate to divide the property in a way that, as nearly as possible, places the parties in the same position they would have been in had the marriage never taken place. In re Marriage of McInnis, 62 Or. App. 524, 661 P.2d 942, 943 (1983).

This means that when a marriage is short, the Court should put people, as closely as possible, back in the position they were in when they got married.

When relatively short marriages are involved, each spouse's contributions to the accumulation of assets during the marriage is an important factor. In re Marriage of Peru, 56 Or. App. 300, 641 P.2d 646, 647 (1982). When a marriage is short, the significance and value of a spouse's non-monetary contributions is diminished, and claims by one spouse to another spouse's separate property are minimal at best. In re Marriage of Wallace, 315 N.W.2d 827, 830-31 (Iowa Ct. App. 1981).”

The Court is saying that the reason it’s fair to put people back in the position they were in when they got married is because there was not time for each person to help the other person or hurt the person. It’s also true that the Court will probably divide any assets or debts that were acquired during the short marriage roughly equally.

To prepare for a case involving a marriage of short duration, Held Law Firm prepares three financial statements – one for each of the parties and one that covers only the assets and debts that were acquired during the marriage. We then propose that people take out of the marriage what they brought to the marriage, and focus on dividing the assets and debts that people acquired during the marriage.

The duration of the marriage is also a factor the court may consider in determining alimony. Here again, Courts try to put people in the position they were in when they got married. For example, if one of you quit a job when you got married, the Court may ask the other spouse to pay alimony for a short time until you can get a job with comparable pay. That said, long term alimony is not likely to happen.

Questions? As always, give us a call and we’ll walk you through what your options are and what you are likely facing when divorcing someone after only a short term marriage.