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What does it mean for my divorce if my marriage was short?

Divorce can be a complicated and emotional process, especially if the marriage was short-lived. The legal process for divorce involves a number of factors, including the length of the marriage, which can affect the outcome of the proceedings. However, the length of the marriage is just one factor that the courts will consider when determining the outcome of a divorce. Other factors, such as the financial circumstances of each party and the presence of children, will also be taken into account.


What is classed as a short marriage?

A short marriage is a marriage that has lasted less than 5 years. While the length of the marriage may not directly affect the legal grounds for divorce or the division of assets, it can impact the overall process and outcome. Short marriages may also involve fewer financial or emotional ties, but still require careful consideration and planning.


Grounds for Divorce in Short Marriages

To obtain a divorce, you must prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. There are five grounds for divorce, including:

  • Adultery

  • Unreasonable behaviour

  • Desertion

  • Separation for two years with consent

  • Separation for five years without consent

Division of Assets on Divorce

When it comes to the division of assets in a short marriage divorce, the court will typically look at what assets were acquired during the marriage and how they were used. In general, any property or assets that were acquired during the marriage will be considered marital property and subject to division. However, the court will consider a range of factors when making decisions about division of assets, including the financial contributions made by each spouse, the needs of any children, and the length of the marriage. In a short marriage, property division can be more straightforward than in a longer marriage as there may be fewer assets to divide.


Financial Settlement on Divorce

In a divorce, the parties must agree on how to divide their assets, including property, savings, pensions, and other investments. This can be more straightforward in a short marriage, as there may be fewer assets accumulated during the relationship. In some cases, the parties may agree to a clean break, meaning that neither party has ongoing financial obligations to the other. However, in other cases, one party may be entitled to spousal maintenance or a share of the other party's pension. If you have children, the financial settlement will also include arrangements for child support and custody. It is important to seek legal advice to ensure that any financial settlement is fair and meets your needs.


Child Custody Arrangements

Child custody can be a complicated issue in any divorce, regardless of the length of the marriage. In a short marriage the parties may not have had time to establish a routine or set up long-term arrangements. If you and your spouse are unable to agree on child custody arrangements, the court will make a decision based on what it believes is best for the child. This is based on the child’s age, health and their relationship with each parent. This could include shared custody, where the child spends equal time with both parents, or sole custody, where one parent has primary care of the child.


Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance may be awarded in a divorce case to provide financial support to the financially weaker spouse. The length of your marriage is also an important factor in determining spousal maintenance. If you were married for a short period, spousal maintenance is less likely to be awarded. However, if one spouse has significantly higher earning potential than the other, the court may award spousal maintenance for a limited time.


Dealing with the Emotional Impact of a Short Marriage Divorce

Going through a divorce can be a difficult and emotional time, especially if the marriage was short-lived. It is important to seek professional help if you are struggling to cope. This could include seeing a therapist or counsellor, joining a support group, or speaking with your doctor.



Divorce is never easy, but it can be particularly challenging if the marriage was short. A short marriage can have a significant impact on the legal proceedings of a divorce case, and can affect the division of assets, spousal maintenance, and the child custody arrangements. While a short marriage can impact a divorce, it is important to remember that every divorce is unique. Working with a skilled family law solicitor can help you understand your options and protect your rights throughout the divorce process.


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