It’s just not working out, and you know it. There’s no sense waiting any longer, or letting it just drag out. You’ve devoted as much as you can to your marriage. It’s better to figure it out sooner rather than later, anyway.
Not every divorce is the same, but there are certain similar characteristics that we see in marriages that last roughly the same amount of time. Luckily for you, you probably still have some of your own separate property (things that you earned or acquired before the marriage), which is still separately yours. By now, though, you probably also have things that were earned, purchased, or accumulated the marriage (both assets and debt)–and those things will have to be divided. It’s important that you know what you’re entitled to under the law, so that you will be able to take care of your financial situation, and pave the way for the best new start possible.
You have come to the right place, and you’re asking the right questions. All divorces are different, so it’s impossible to predict ahead of time what your exact outcome will be. Still, we have seen enough cases like yours that we can discuss some of the things that we normally see. The biggest area where we see similarities in shorter term marriages is in spousal support.
Spousal support is complicated. If you’re planning on asking for spousal support, you’ll probably need to talk to an attorney relatively early on to find out whether you might be entitled to receive it–the shorter the marriage, the less likely an award of spousal support can be.
When attorneys and judges determine should receive spousal support, they are looking at three things: (1) need and ability to pay, (2) the statutory factors, and (3) the length of marriage.
The length of marriage has a lot to do with spousal support. Length of marriage helps to determine two things–whether you’ll receive support at all, and, if so you qualify, how long you’ll be entitled to receive it. The length of marriage is one of the statutory factors, but it’s important for another reason, too. Several years ago, the Virginia legislature heard a proposal to make length of marriage the chief factor in determining how long a person would receive support. The proposal did not pass, so it never became a law. Still, because of this proposal, it has become a presumption that most judges and attorneys consider when we determine spousal support.
Before you panic, remember that this is not law, and it’s not set in stone. It’s just a presumption. It’s entirely possible that you could get more support, but, on the other hand, it’s also possible that you could not qualify for spousal support at all.
The general presumption is that shorter term marriages don’t qualify to receive spousal support at all. Again, that doesn’t mean you won’t receive it. It happens sometimes that women who have been married a shorter period of time are able to get spousal support. It’s probably unlikely that you’ll get more than half the length of the marriage, though. Still, you should plan to talk to an attorney about your unique case, and, if there are any extenuating circumstances that demonstrate that you deserve to receive spousal support for a longer period of time, it’s a great time to start talking about it.
Every divorce is different, and yours is sure to present some unique issues. It’s always smart to have a talk with an attorney about your case, so that you can determine the best way to move forward with your divorce.