Divorcing After Only Days: What Happens When A Marriage Ends Quickly? 

divorce after a brief marriage

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Pamela Anderson and her new husband Jon Peters have made headlines twice so far in 2020: Once when they tied the knot in a surprise wedding in January, and again on February 1 when the pair announced their marriage was already ending in divorce. 

Celebrities can have very short marriages. But so can the rest of us! Are you wondering what happens when a marriage ends quickly? Is divorce preferred, or is an annulment a better option? And what about assets? Can you get alimony or child support after a brief marriage? 

Let’s take a look at some answers. 

Divorce After a Brief Marriage: 5 Things to Know 

An Annulment Could Be Appropriate…But Not Always: When a marriage is annulled in court, it is a legal declaration that the marriage never technically existed and was never valid. An annulment may be an appealing option for very short marriages. But be prepared that to grant the annulment, at least one ground (reason) for the annulment must be proven to the courts. These include fraud, bigamy (already being married to another person), and duress. For example, did your husband tell you in no uncertain terms that he wanted children before you got married and now he is saying something different? Or, did your wife falsely lead you to believe that the child she is carrying is yours and that is the reason you got married? These types of untruths can be grounds for an annulment (as fraud) in New Jersey. 

Divorce is your other option, and is often preferred. Filing for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable difference does not require either spouse to prove fault. When there are no contested issues, the divorce could be finalized in a matter of weeks without the need to litigate in court. If you are trying to move on with your lives in the most time efficient and least costly way, you may want to consider an uncontested divorce. 

Assets Could Be A Factor: In very brief marriages, there are typically few accumulated marital assets to address, but that is not always the case. Let’s say that a couple lived together for a few years prior to marriage and bought a house with mutually saved money right after their wedding. That home would almost certainly be subject to marital asset division in divorce, no matter how brief the marriage. On the other hand, if one spouse owned their own home prior to marriage and the other spouse moved into the home only after the wedding, it’s more likely the house would remain separate property and be excluded from the divorce. 

Child Support Does Not Depend on Marriage or Marriage Length: If you have kids together, whether they are born before, during, or after your marriage, parents have an obligation to financially support their children. Even if your marriage only lasted a few short weeks, this will have no bearing on child support, which is based on the child’s needs, each parent’s income and other factors. It’s also important to note that having a very short marriage will not impact child custody; parents have rights to their children regardless of marital status. 

Alimony Uncertain: Under New Jersey’s revamped alimony laws, alimony may be awarded following a brief marriage, but only for a short time if at all. If you were married for two years before divorcing, for example, alimony could only be awarded for up two years. Married for three years; alimony could only be awarded for up to three years. And so on. There are exceptions, however. Notably, if the spouses agreed to a prenuptial agreement before marriage that spelled out an alimony agreement that was not dependent on length of the marriage, those terms could be applied. 

A Prenup Is a Good Idea Before Marriage of Any Length: Speaking of prenups, the uncertainties of what can happen in divorce make putting a premarital agreement in place a good idea for any couple contemplating marriage. Prenups can address which assets will remain separate property, and how marital assets and debts will be divided, along with agreements about alimony in the event of divorce.

Another good thing about prenups: Having one can give you both peace of mind, which is one of the keys to a happy union.

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