Couples do not enter into a marriage with the intention of ending it. They enter into a marriage with the goal of building a life together. Unfortunately, many couples find that their marriage faces challenges much sooner than they expected, which could lead to the dissolution of their marriage in a much shorter time.
When a couple separates in a short-term marriage, they may also experience a much quicker divorce process than those who have been married for many years because they will have accumulated less debt, fewer retirement collections, and most likely, fewer assets. California law has specific standards for what constitutes the difference between a short-term and a long-term divorce. If you are considering a divorce and believe your marriage might be considered short-term, contact our firm to learn your next steps.
Short-term marriages are those that last less than ten years. This is important because, in a divorce that is a part of short-term marriages, the judge will look at the length of the marriage as a determination of how invested in the relationship each party is. It is important to know that short-term marriages aren’t only for young couples, as many marry later in life. However, when it comes to assets and division, courts only make decisions based on what is accumulated during the time in which they are married.
In short-term marriages, divorce settlements will be impacted in the following ways:
- All accumulated assets will be split 50/50 in accordance with California law. Most couples in short-term marriages have little accumulations in physical property, assets, and debts, meaning the procedure to split these will be simpler and more direct.
- Child custody is encouraged to take place through a mediation process rather than through the litigation process.
- Spousal support is generally on a temporary basis due to the nature of any marital union that only lasts a short while. Generally, an award of spousal support is granted for a term equal to half the lifetime of the marriage. Therefore, if the marriage lasted nine years and spousal support was deemed appropriate, then it would not last for more than 4.5 years.
Long-term marriages see many of the more traditional struggles that couples who have been together for a long period of time confront. They have shared so much of their lives together that they often feel entitled to certain shared assets or are accustomed to certain lifestyles that can lead to many contentious conversations later. These marriages are defined as lasting longer than ten years. The distinction of length is determined by the amount of time the couple was married from the date of the marriage to the date of separation (not divorce finalization).
In a long-term marriage divorce, there are generally more considerations that go into the settlement, including:
- Spousal support is not guaranteed but could be granted on a permanent basis. The duration, though, is generally not longer than half the time of the marriage. Therefore, a 20-year marriage could have ten years of spousal support.
- Child custody and support are encouraged through the mediation process, but depending on the age of the child, they could also have a say in what they would like. Longer marriages typically involve children who are older.
- Property division can be more complicated with all the investments, retirement accounts, and greater debts to be considered in the 50/50 split.
The Speed of Divorce
In most short-term marriages, a dissolution for divorce can be an easy process that likely won’t need the involvement of courtroom litigation. If both spouses can easily come to an agreement on the details of the divorce, then a judge does not have to see the case. Short-term marriages best benefit from this process because there are fewer details to consider in the finalization.
People in short-term marriages can file for a summary dissolution by simply filling out the paperwork, coming to agreements on the necessary terms, and waiting through the six-month mandatory period. All California divorces have a minimum of six months before they are finalized. To file for a summary dissolution, you and your spouse must not:
- Have been married longer than five years
- Have any children
- Own any property
- Have any outside rental properties
- Have more than $6,000 accumulated debt
- Have more than $41,000 in personal property
In these situations, a summary divorce is quick, easy, and cost-effective.
Q: What Is Considered a Short-Term Marriage in California?
A: Short-term marriages are those that are less than ten years. The measurement of the marriage length is determined by calculating the time between the day the couple was married and the day of separation. Separation is the day the couple files for divorce rather than the day the divorce is finalized.
Q: Does the Length of Marriage Affect Divorce Settlement in California?
A: The main area of divorce settlements impacted by the length of a marriage is that of spousal support. Short-term marriages are not likely to see any type of spousal support, and those that do are very minimal and never permanent. Any support awarded in short-term marriages will last no longer than half the term of the marriage. Long-term marriages, however, will have a greater likelihood and more permanency.
Q: What Is the Shortest Time for a Divorce in California?
A: A divorce in California takes a minimum of six months. This is a standard waiting period regardless of the type of divorce you are seeking. The clock begins at the time the petition is filed. This allows the couple to settle all arrangements prior to any court litigation. It also provides time for any reconciliation that may occur.
Q: What Is the 10-Year Rule in California?
A: The 10-Year Rule is the term applied to marriages in California that serves as the distinction between short- and long-term marriages. This distinction can impact some pieces of the divorce settlement, such as spousal support. In addition, those marriages that last less than ten years may benefit from summary divorces rather than traditional ones.
California Family Law Attorney
If you are considering a divorce or have been served papers by your spouse seeking a divorce, you may have many questions. At Khalaf Law Group, our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys can help you with all your questions concerning short-term marriages. Contact our offices today.