It nearly always comes as a shock to friends and family when a marriage lasts only a few months or a year or two. Although no one wants to see a couple break up so soon, it may be the best thing to dissolve the relationship and move on rather than to endure what may be a poor match.


For others, though, divorce may not be the solution for those who are feeling frustrated, angry or alone. Even after the divorce, the party may still experience these feelings. For anyone seeking or thinking of divorcing after a short marriage, counseling may help discover the underlying issues affecting the relationship, which divorce may not resolve at all. In any event, seek the services of a Boston divorce lawyer who can address your concerns and the options available.


In many short term marriages, there are few marital assets and no children born of the marriage so the only issues may be dividing what few joint debts or assets were acquired during the relationship.


Divorce Residency Requirements


To file for divorce in Massachusetts, you must have lived in the state for at least one year or have lived here as a married couple and the irretrievable breakdown occurred here. Your spouse need not be living in Massachusetts for you to file here. You do have to file in the county where your spouse is living if that is where you last lived together; otherwise, if your spouse moved from that county, you can file in the county where either of you live.


Division of Assets and Alimony


If the parties have differences regarding their assets or if one spouse is demanding alimony or spousal support and these issues seem unresolvable, the parties can either seek a mediator to help them resolve them or have the court make the determination.  For a short term marriage, the factors a court uses to determine a division of assets and an award of alimony are the same:


  • Duration of the marriage
  • Age of the parties
  • Conduct of the parties
  • Health
  • Occupations and vocational skills
  • Financial needs
  • Sources of income
  • Contribution of the parties to the value of the estate



Alimony is unlikely in a short-term marriage, or one that is less than 8 years in length, but it is still possible depending on the economic situation of the parties. If only one party worked outside the home and was the major, if not only, wage earner, then short-term alimony might be ordered especially if the nonworking party will suffer significant financial problems and has few vocational skills.


For the division of assets and debts, the court will also look to see who brought the asset into the marriage or the respective contributions and who benefitted from the incurred debt. For instance, if the parties bought a car then the party who drove it the most will likely be awarded it and pay off the loan.


Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state so the court will not necessarily divide the assets and debts 50-50, but will consider what is fair and equitable. If one party behaved badly and spent most the couple’s funds on gambling, then most of the remaining assets may be distributed to the other spouse. Otherwise, in a short marriage, the parties will simply take back what they brought into the marriage and divide whatever they acquired during the short time they were married.


If the Divorce is Amicable


If the divorce is amicable with no unresolved issues, then the parties can file for a no-fault, uncontested divorce as the easiest method of terminating their legal relationship. Should there be some unresolved issues, the parties could use mediation to resolve them. To file for a no-fault, uncontested divorce, you will need to file a 1A divorce with the following documents:


  • Joint Petition for Divorce
  • Affidavit of Irretrievable Breakdown
  • Separation Agreement
  • Certified Copy of Marriage Certificate
  • Financial Statement of each party
  • Certificate of Absolute Divorce
  • Request for Assignment


It can take up to 4 weeks for your hearing where you both have to appear or file an appearance waiver. If the judge approves the separation agreement, then the court issues a Judgment of Divorce Nisi but your divorce is not final until 90 days later. The date of the divorce is called the date of Absolute Divorce.


A short term marriage ending in divorce can be no less traumatizing for one or both parties. Seek legal advice from experienced divorce attorney Doug Lovenberg who can recommend counseling or advise you on your legal rights.