Short term marriages are generally considered to be 5 years or less. However MA General Laws ch. 208, sec. 48 defines length of marriage as "the number of months from the date of legal marriage to the date of service of a complaint or petition for divorce or separate support duly filed in a court of the commonwealth or another court with jurisdiction to terminate the marriage; provided, however, that the court may increase the length of the marriage if there is evidence that the parties' economic marital partnership began during their cohabitation period prior to the marriage."
Generally speaking, in short term marriage divorces, the goal is usually to put the parties back into the positions (financially speaking) where they were when they entered the marriage with consideration of new joint assets and appreciation on assets brought into the marriage. Unlike intermediate or long term marriages where there may be a lot of unwinding of assets and/or debt accumulation, this typically is not the case with short term marriages. This can be a lot simpler.
Five Reasons to Consider Divorce Mediation
1. A MEDIATED DIVORCE will allow Husband and Wife to speak directly to one another with the help of a neutral third party.
Many people going through a divorce have a difficult time communicating with their spouse. Using a third party neutral "Mediator" provides a level of comfort that puts the parties in a position where they can better advocate for themselves directly with their spouse. In the beginning stage of mediation, there should be a discussion identifying the goals and concerns of each party.
2. There will be discussions of financial decisions and their impact on the couple going forward.
The mediator him/herself or a suggested use of a financial neutral will help the couple examine their finances, see that they are educated about their current and possible future financial situation, “try on” various options and determine how they would like their lives to continue. Rather than focusing on how a court will divide assets, liabilities and cash flow, a good mediator/financial neutral will look for common interests and then help the parties craft a plan that will satisfy the interests of each party and also stay within the boundaries of what courts will think is fair.
3. This approach will strongly consider the emotional impact of the divorce on all concerned.
Unlike attorney representation, a mediator will examine how the couple's decisions about all the applicable topics in their "to be completed divorce agreement" may emotionally impact them as individuals. Divorce, whether from a short or long term marriage, is difficult. It is one of the top stressors an individual may face during their lifetime. A good mediator will discuss how to deal with the new directions the parties lives will take and how to move on. Because this is an open process, the parties may seek outside professional advice at any time.
4. The mediator will discuss all the issues that need to be addressed: Assets, Liabilities, Health Insurance, as applicable.
A good mediator will help the parties discuss and understand the matters at issue and come to agreements on each with the goal that their overall divorce agreement works for each party. The mediator may suggest referrals to appropriate professionals for further review and discussion as necessary.
5. Replaced court dates with discussions and meetings!
Why start down a path of litigating your divorce when the court's ultimate goal with short term marriages is to put each party back to where they were before they married. Using a mediation discussion approach is more civilized, efficient, cost effective and many times less stressful.
By definition litigation is sending a case to the court system for orders and ultimately judgments. This is not a simple task. There are filings and multiple attendances at court in most cases. There is discovery, document production, depositions and a trial. Generally this will be far more expensive to move through than mediation. Consider your assets, liabilities, ability to earn income, ability to meet expenses and carefully check out both paths to divorce.
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