A divorce is a challenging event whether after a long term or short term marriage. Legally the effect on the relationship is the same, but there can be ways the short term marriage ends a bit differently. Here are some of the issues for any divorce and how the final order of the court may treat these issues after a shorter marriage.

Child Custody And Support

Although there may be statistically fewer short marriage dissolutions that include child custody issues, if the partners do have a child or children the court will be handling this aspect in exactly the same way it would were it a long marriage. Child custody and support matters always have less to do with the length of the marriage than with the best interests of the child.

If a couple shares a child or children all of the safeguards in the local laws passed for the children will still hold full force. Just as in any divorce if one spouse is pregnant during the divorce proceedings the local court will be making some legal assumptions about paternity regardless of whether the partners are already divorced when the child is born.

Property Division

Every jurisdiction will have its own detailed rules but in general the court will be looking at martial assets with a different eye when a marriage was short. Be very cautious and consult an attorney if large amounts of cash, real property or investments are involved. Often in the dissolution of a very short marriage the court will award each partner the assets each brought to the marriage.

The rings and the personal property the couple received as wedding gifts can be a challenge. Generally the rings of each partner are considered gifts and remain in the possession of each. If the partners remain calm and reasonable throughout the divorce negotiations there are a couple of easy ways to sort the wedding gifts. One way is for each to keep the gifts given by the people related to that partner. Another division could be by simply dividing according to want or use.

Real estate owned by both partners may require an assessment of the contribution of each to a down payment. If the home is owned by only one spouse the law of the venue will determine the split. often permitting that ex-spouse to retain all rights.

Spousal Maintenance Or Alimony

Short marriages do not frequently result in the award of a regular payment from one spouse to the other. The exception would be for any child support awarded. It is also rare for any right to pensions, including government benefits, to be awarded as there are typically time requirements for that type of right to vest.

If one of the spouses gave up opportunities or left school or something similar because of the marriage there could be an argument for an extra allocation out of the marital estate. Again if the parties are being reasonable during this trying time any number of negotiated settlements could be reached. Often the court will allow creative ways to make each party whole or as close to whole as possible.

Emotional Support

Neither spouse is insulated from unkind remarks from family or friends who make unkind remarks or publicly or privately welcome the breakup. Seek help from a professional if depression or embarrassment are problems and are more than you can handle.


In very specific circumstances an annulment may be preferable. Most states limit this legal remedy so do not mistake it for an alternative available for every situation. Discuss your situation with a trusted attorney to determine what the best option is for your particular situation.