Does the Length of a Marriage Affect the Divorce Settlement?

Nov 18, 2019   ·   3 minute read
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It is tempting to answer the question ‘’does length of marriage affect divorce settlement?’’ by saying that ‘’it all depends’’. However, many would say that reply is a typical politicians or lawyer’s answer and, if you are getting divorced, you want a clear answer, not something woolly.

The reality though is that the length of a marriage is a relevant factor when the court decides how much a husband and wife should get in a divorce financial settlement. Just how relevant the length of the marriage is depends on the couple’s financial and personal circumstances.

The short marriage and the divorce financial settlement

Many people assume that if a couple have only been married for a couple of years then the divorcing spouse will not get  spousal maintenance or even a ‘’pay out‘’ or divorce financial settlement but it all depends.


If three couples have each been married for two years the financial settlement will be different for each couple, as highlighted by these three case examples:


Couple 1 Janet and John

Janet and John are both high flyers and each owned property before their marriage. They have no children. The short length of their marriage will be highly influential in reaching a financial settlement and clean break financial court order.


Couple 2 Mariah and Nick

The couple only got together just before their marriage two years ago and shortly afterwards the twins arrived. Mariah left work to look after them as Nick agreed juggling work and childcare was not in the interests of the twins. Although the couple have only been married for two years, the length of their marriage is not highly relevant, as the court will focus on the children’s needs when determining a fair financial settlement.


Couple 3 Bill and Ben

Bill and Ben married two years ago but within a matter of months, Bill realised that he had made a mistake. He has moved out and started divorce proceedings. He has assumed that he will get a clean break financial court order as the couple only lived together for twelve months out of their two-year marriage.


However, before the marriage, Bill and Ben had lived together in a continuous relationship for about fifteen years. The court takes into account pre-marriage cohabitation when looking at the length of the marriage, if it was ‘’seamless living together’’.

Although the marriage may have officially only been of two years duration, the family court could assess it as a long relationship of seventeen years when looking at what sort of divorce financial settlement would be fair to both Bill and Ben.


Does the length of marriage affect divorce settlement?

The case studies show that when a Whitefield divorce solicitor answers the question ‘’ does the length of a marriage affect divorce settlement ‘’ with a ‘’maybe’’ that whilst it may be a woolly answer it is the correct one until more information is available on a couple’s financial and personal circumstances.


For help with your divorce financial settlement please contact our specialist divorce lawyers.

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