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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Short Marriages


Term Definition Short Marriages - when spouses repent in haste.
Application in Divorce For a variety of reasons, sometimes couples who marry realize almost immediately they have made a mistake. May-December marriages, impulse marriages, a second try with a first-time partner, quick rebound marriages after a first marital failure -- all may become what are called "short marriages" in the eyes of court.

In general, a short marriage is one where the financial affairs "do not become so commingled that they cannot easily be restored to premarital situation." Moreover, a short marriage, while it cannot be quantified in terms of years, is almost always a childless marriage. For want of rule of thumb, however, a short marriage is generally held to be five or fewer years.

In a general way, the dissolution of short marriages calls forth the image of King Solomon and his sword: a swift cut that attempts "the restoration of spouses to the economic position they occupied before the marriage." Sometimes this may be as simple as allowing each partner to keep what he or she brought to the marriage and cutting everything marital in two. In fact, in 1988 Alaska case -- Rose v. Rose - the court said of short marriage that is it analogous to a contractual "action in rescission."

The logic of action of rescission is easy to apply when the marriage is without substantial marital property, but it may be more complicated if, even in the short duration, the couple have commingled assets, or if one spouse has made a career sacrifice for the benefit of the other.

While short marriage rarely end with alimony, compensation may be in order when one spouse leaves the work force to become a homemaker, even when she does not have children.

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