There is no question ending ANY marriage can be difficult and emotional. And, ending a short-term marriage can be even more of a challenge.
Lots of questions might swirl around like “Will the judge award alimony if we’ve only been married a few years?” Or . . . “Will a court look at child custody differently if our marriage isn’t longer than a few years?” Or . . . “Can we get an annulment if the marriage didn’t work after a few months?”
Bottom line? If you want answers about how to end your short-term marriage you’ve come to the right place. In this Guide, we answer your most frequently asked questions about ending your short-term marriage. Let’s dive right in!
Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries were married for only 72 days.
Jennifer Lopez and Ojani Noa were married just 11 months.
Britney Spears and Kevin Federline married for 2 years and had two children during their marriage.
Think short-term marriages are just for celebrities?
Needless to say, we are divorce lawyers in Las Vegas, Nevada.
So what constitutes a short-term marriage in Nevada may not be the same in your State.
This is why we suggest that you consult with a qualified family law attorney to determine whether or not your marriage qualifies as a short-term marriage.
Now that you know a little bit about the statistics of marriage, and what defines marriage and divorce in the United States, it’s time to focus on different options for ending a short marriage.You’d be wrong…
Short marriages aren’t uncommon at all.
In fact, as of 2009, the average length of a first marriage in the United States was just 8 years.
But to know whether your marriage qualifies as a short-term marriage…and better yet…to know how to end your short-term marriage, it is important to understand marriage and divorce statistics.
We all know that marriage is defined as “the legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship.”
Divorce is the termination of a marital union.
But here are some important statistics about marriage:
Marriage on the decline
Oklahoma has the highest divorce rate per capita with Nevada in second and Iowa in last
When it comes to fault in divorce, over 50% of those surveyed said the divorce was their partner’s fault
Needless to say, we are divorce lawyers in Las Vegas, Nevada.
So what constitutes a short-term marriage in Nevada may not be the same in your State.
This is why we suggest that you consult with a qualified family law attorney to determine whether or not your marriage qualifies as a short-term marriage.
Now that you know a little bit about the statistics of marriage, and what defines marriage and divorce in the United States, it’s time to focus on different options for ending a short marriage.
he options for ending a short marriage are no different than the options for ending a long marriage.
These options include:
While this Guide doesn’t go as in-depth as other articles on our site, consider the following information about each different way to end your short marriage. . .
This is usually the best option for ending a short marriage.
To get an annulment in Nevada you must either live here or you must have been married here and you must meet the statutory grounds for an annulment.
There are two grounds for a Nevada annulment:
What’s the difference?
A void marriage is a marriage that cannot exist by law. In Nevada, this would include marrying a blood relative or getting married while still being married to someone else.
For example, we once had a client file for an annulment when she discovered 6 months after her wedding day that her husband never divorced his first wife. Since her husband could not be married to 2 women at the same time, the marriage was annulled as a void marriage.
A voidable marriage is one where one of the parties lacks intent to marry or the marriage is based on fraud or duress.
For example, we annulled the marriage of a couple who came to Las Vegas for a party, got rip roaring drunk, went to Elvis and got married thinking it was a joke. Since neither party wanted to be married or had any intention of being married and were so drunk they didn’t know what they were doing, the judge determined the marriage should be annulled as voidable.
Another example . . . we had a case where the woman discovered after she married that her husband had no intention of residing with her. He was only using her for immigration purposes. We were able to have the marriage annulled for fraud and it was deemed a voidable marriage.
Annulments in Nevada can be difficult to obtain and often require specific wording when being presented to a judge.
If you are considering getting a Nevada annulment you should consult with a family law attorney.
In addition, judges will really pay attention to the length of time of the marriage when deciding on voidable marriage annulments. If you think you want to annul your short-term marriage for fraud or lack of understanding, you shouldn’t wait. Get an annulment ASAP.
Even in short marriages, the length of marriage is just 1 factor for judges to consider when deciding alimony.
In Nevada, our laws give the judges 11 different factors to look at when making a spousal support award. Those 11 factors include the following:
1.The financial condition of each spouse.
2.The nature and value of the respective property of each spouse.
3.The contribution of each spouse to any property held by the spouses
4.The duration of marriage.
5.The income, earning capacity, age and health of each spouse.
6.The standard of living during the marriage.
7.The career before the marriage of the spouse who would receive the alimony.
8.The existence of specialized education or training or the level of marketable skills attained by each spouse during the marriage.
9.The contribution of either spouse as homemaker.
10. The award of property granted by the court in the divorce, other than child support and alimony, to the spouse who would receive the alimony.
11. The physical and mental condition of each party as it relates to the financial condition, health and ability to work of that spouse.
Yeah, we know – 11 different factors!
So how does this apply to you?
For example, if you have been married 3 years and you earn $10,000,000 a year and your spouse earns $50,000, chances are you are going to pay some alimony. It is likely you will only pay temporary alimony, but you will still pay some alimony.
Another example…you have only been married 5 years with no children. Your spouse is keeping the house, the car and the 401(k). You make $150,000 a year and your spouse makes $75,000 a year. Chances are you won’t pay alimony because your spouse is getting the majority of the community assets.
So remember . . .each case is different and whether or not alimony will be awarded will depend on how your judge looks at the facts of your specific case.
There are many reasons to consider alternatives to alimony.
Most people who pay alimony don’t want to and those who are receiving alimony are wondering when their payments will come, what happens if their ex loses their job, etc.
A 2-2-5-5 schedule which looks like this:
Or 3-4-4-3 schedule which looks like this:
Not sure about who gets what when you end your short-term marriage?
Don’t worry you’re not alone.
One of the most frequently asked questions we get, regardless of the length of the marriage, is what will I get or how much will I owe.
The bottom line? Whether you have a long-term marriage or a short marriage, you will need to decide how to divide your assets and debts.
And . . .if you and your ex can’t agree on how to divide your assets and debts the Court will decide for you.
Before we get into how the Court will decide who gets what, let’s cover some basic definitions.
Nevada is a community property state. This means that all income earned and all assets acquired during the marriage are community property.
Community property belongs to both spouses equally, so it must be split equally between the spouses at divorce.
The same thing goes for debts. Any debt incurred during the marriage is going to be considered the equal debt of both spouses. That means you are both equally responsible for any debts incurred during marriage.
Separate property is property you or your spouse owned before marriage.
Under some circumstances, you can acquire separate property after you are married but only in very limited circumstances. A gift, an inheritance, or a personal-injury award received during marriage is usually considered separate property.
Nevada law generally requires that community property be divided equally.
But…there are always exceptions.
So now that you have an idea of basic definitions and how the law in Nevada works, let’s get to how the Court will divide property if you can’t agree.
The first thing the Court will do is look at separate property.
Again, separate property is property you owned before marriage.
For example, let’s say you owned a car that was completely paid for before you got married. Absent anything weird, the Court should confirm the car to you as your separate property.
Now let’s take our example one step further. Let’s say you owned a house before marriage and you rented it out. Any profit or rent you receive from your house will remain your property alone as long as you don’t mix it with community property.
In order to keep your separate property separate, you need to show the Court clear and convincing proof it was yours before marriage.
For example, the title to your vehicle or deed to your house owned before marriage is proof that those are your separate property.
Likewise, if you received a gift, you need to be able to show the Court clear and convincing evidence that the gift was only intended for you.
The downside of having lots of separate property is that the Court can set it aside to cover certain things like community debt, alimony or child support.
If you have lots of separate property or have issues dividing your property, you might want to consult with a divorce lawyer about how the Court will consider your separate property in other areas of ending your short-term marriage.
Assuming you don’t have a prenuptial agreement, generally, all property acquired during the marriage will be considered community property.
Like we said before, if you are ending your short-term marriage in Nevada, it is presumed that all community property will be divided in half.
How does that work you might ask?
Your community property starts on the date of marriage and ends on the date of divorce.
This means even if you are physically separated, you are still acquiring community property.
The Court will look at the net community property and divide it equally.
The Court has the option to unequally divide community property, but only if there is a compelling reason to do so.
For example, let’s say you purchased a house after marriage for $100,000 with earnings from both parties. Now let’s say you moved out of the house six months ago. At the time of divorce, you only owed $50,000 on the house. This means that $50,000 in equity is community property. In most circumstances, the Court will divide the equity of $50,000 in half.
But…let’s assume your spouse is 90 years old and you are 35 and you earn $500,000 and your marriage was only 1 year long. In this scenario, there is a good chance the judge will find a compelling reason for your spouse to get all of the equity in the house.
There can be lots of twists and turns trying to figure out community property. If you are confused or have questions consult with a family law attorney.
Debts need to also be characterized as community or separate debts.
The Court will consider who acquired the debt, when the debt was acquired and why the debt was acquired.
If the debt was acquired before marriage, chances are the Court is going to consider the debt separate debt and it will be the responsibility of the party who acquired the debt to pay for it.
If the debt was acquired during the marriage, chances are the Court will consider it community debt and both parties will be equally responsible for the debt unless there are compelling reasons to unequally divide it.
Cash is easy to divide because we know exactly how much there is.
Other assets like homes, cars and collectibles might be more difficult to figure out.
If you and your spouse can’t agree on the value, the property will be appraised to determine the fair market value of the property.
Once you know whether the property is community or separate and the property has a value assigned, the Court will distribute the property among the parties.
As we said before, generally a Nevada court will equally divide the community assets and debts; however, the court may also take separate property, alimony and child support into consideration when making final property distributions.
However, it is important to remember that fault is not a basis for an unequal distribution of assets or debts in a Nevada divorce.
This means that in dividing assets and debts, the Court can’t consider who was at fault for the divorce.
For example, if your spouse cheated on you, the judge cant consider this as a reason to give you more of the community assets.
The law allows the court to distribute the community property unevenly based on compelling reasons, but those reasons tend to be economic rather than moral; and they can’t be based on fault.
For more information about how to end your short-term marriage, keep reading.
Once you have decided how you want to end your short-term marriage (divorce, annulment or legal separation), you need to decide whether or not your case will be contested or uncontested.
An uncontested case means that everything in your case is settled and you wont need a judge to decide things for you.
A contested case means that you cannot resolve all if the issues and you may need a judge to resolve some or all of your issues.
Once you decide whether your case is a contested or uncontested case, you can decide which procedure will work for you for ending your short-term marriage.
A joint petition is the cheapest, fastest and easiest way to get a divorce in Nevada.
If you choose to use a joint petition to end your short-term marriage there are a few things to consider:
First, you can only file a joint petition for a divorce. You can’t use a joint petition for an annulment or a legal separation in Nevada.
Second, you can only file a joint petition divorce when you and your ex have agreed to all aspects of the divorce. This means you and your ex are 100% in agreement about child custody, child support, child health insurance, the child tax deduction, visitation, holidays, vacations, travel, extra-curricular expenses, divisions of assets and debts and spousal support.
A court cannot have 99% of your divorce issues agreed to in a joint petition. Simply, the parties must have 100% of the issues in the divorce agreed to in order to qualify for a joint petition divorce.
The time it takes to process the joint petition is largely up to each individual judge but you can expect your divorce to be final anywhere from 14 to 30 days from the day you file your joint petition paperwork.
In addition to filing the petition itself, you will still need to file some other paperwork including a decree of divorce.
One of the benefits of a joint petition is that it rarely requires a Court appearance. If the paperwork is done completely and correctly, a joint petition is usually approved by the judge without the parties appearing in Court.
It is very tempting to use the forms on-line or the forms available at Self Help to do a joint petition divorce. In cases where there are no children and where there are no assets and debts and no spousal support, using forms and doing the joint petition yourself is recommended.
However, if you have children or if your case requires dividing assets and debts or the payment of spousal support, it is strongly recommended that you have an attorney prepare your joint petition for divorce documents.
If you are filing a contested divorce or an annulment or legal separation you will be required to file a complaint.
The person who files for divorce is the “plaintiff” and the other spouse is the “defendant.”
The plaintiff’s complaint will list what the plaintiff would like from the case.
If you are filing a complaint divorce or legal separation, you should identify if you want alimony, how you want assets and debts divided, what kind of custody, visitation and child support you want and any other issues you want the Court to resolve.
If you are the wife filing for divorce, you should also tell the Judge whether or not you want to go back to your maiden name in the Complaint.
You will also need to obtain a summons from the Court. This is the form that let’s your spouse know you have filed for divorce, annulment or legal separation and let’s your spouse know they have 20 days to respond to your complaint. Don’t skip this – this form is required.
You can also request an injunction at the time your complaint is filed. The injunction keeps you and your spouse from doing bad things during your litigation like canceling insurance, selling or destroying community property or moving out of the State with your children.
Once you have all of these documents signed and filed and you have paid the filing fee, you will need to have your spouse personally served with all of these documents.
But wait…your case still isn’t over
If your spouse has filed a complaint to end your short-term marriage, there are a few things you need to do.
Don’t ignore the paperwork. Ignoring it won’t make it go away and if you ignore it long enough, your spouse will win and get everything they are asking for.
Instead, read the documents and don’t panic!
Remember, the Complaint is just your spouse telling the judge what they want.
If you disagree with what your spouse is asking for, file an Answer. Do this by specifically identifying which parts of your spouse’s complaint you agree with and the ones you don’t agree with.
You also have the opportunity to ask the judge for the things you want. This is the counterclaim. Again, be sure to include everything – alimony, custody, visitation, child support, division of assets and debts.
If you disagree with anything your spouse is asking for in their papers, you need to file a response. Ignoring the papers will not make the case go away. In fact, if you do not file a response within 20 calendar days, the court could enter a default against you, and your spouse may be able to get a final divorce that includes everything they asked for in their complaint.
Pay your filing fee and file your paperwork.
Don’t forget to mail a copy of your response to your spouse.
Case Management Conference: This hearing usually occurs within 90 days of the answer being filed. The case management conference is an initial hearing where the judge, the attorneys, and the parties meet to discuss the issues involved in the case. The whole purpose is to get your case moving forward. The judge might ask questions to try to figure out if you and your spouse have any agreements or if the judge needs to set a trial. The judge can also refer you to a settlement conference or to mediation for custody. Usually your case is not over at this hearing.
Motions, Oppositions and Countermotions For Temporary Orders: It may take time to get your case resolved. While you are waiting, either side can ask the judge to resolve issues until the judge can have a trial. This is done by filing a motion with the Court and asking the judge for temporary relief until your case can be finally resolved. This can include asking for child support, alimony, to sell a house or to divide certain assets. There are lots of rules involved with filing motions, opposition and countermotions. If you believe your case requires this you should talk to a family law attorney immediately.
Concerned about how ending your short-term marriage might work out?
We’ve been handling family court cases for over 16 years in Nevada.
When we tell you that ending a short-term marriage is pretty routine, we aren’t kidding.
But…you don’t have to take our word for it.
Below are just a few examples of some short-term marriages and how we’ve ended them for our clients.
Don’t worry – we’ve changed the names to protect those involved.
Unus and Ronald were married for only 7 months before filing for divorce. Luckily, there were no minor children between them.
Unus and Ronald’s relationship was quite volatile and police had been called to their home more than once during their short marriage.
After lots of false accusations of domestic violence, it was Ronald that finally moved out.
During the marriage, the parties accumulated almost $100,000 in debt.
Despite their short-term marriage, the parties spent almost 10 months and well over $10,000 in litigation getting divorced.
At the end of the day, Unus agreed to be responsible for the debt if Ronald agreed to pay spousal support of $1,000 per month for 3 years.
Candi and Tyler dated for 7 years before getting married. They both lived in Delaware.
Candi knew that Tyler had PTSD but Tyler represented he was being treated by a psychiatrist and taking medication.
The parties married in Las Vegas in April 2018. However, after the wedding, Tyler refused to move in with Candi.
Candi learned that Tyler had been off of his medications and was no longer seeing a psychiatrist.
After a few months of Tyler refusing to move in with Candi, we filed for an annulment and argued fraud and lack of understanding.
The judge found that Tyler was not capable of fulfilling his responsibilities as a husband and readily granted the annulment.
Jack and Ellie were work colleagues and came to Las Vegas from Georgia for a work conference. They had socialized outside of work and Ellie knew Jack was married.
Despite this, when they came to Las Vegas, Jack and Ellie got completely drunk at a party. They both thought it would be funny to go get married by Elvis. So they did.
Neither of them realized their wedding was real until Jack’s wife found out and informed them both.
Within a few weeks, our office filed for an annulment which was granted for 2 reasons. First, the judge agreed that Jack and Ellie were too drunk to adequately consent to the marriage. Second, Jack’s marriage to Ellie couldn’t possibly be valid because Jack was already married.
Belinda and Caleb were married in 2014. They had one child born in 2015.
In 2018, Caleb decided to move out and Belinda filed for a legal separation.
Caleb was in the military and Belinda had recently been told she needed surgery.
Belinda didn’t want a divorce or she would lose her health insurance benefits and would not be able to have the surgery.
The parties agreed to a legal separation so that Belinda could have surgery but keep her health insurance.
In their legal separation, they agreed that they would share joint custody of their child, that Caleb would provide health insurance for the child, that Caleb would be responsible for his debts and Belinda would be responsible for her debts. They also agreed that whatever they earned would be their separate assets. Finally, Caleb agreed to pay a small amount of child support each month.
In November 2018, Belinda had her surgery and in December 2018, Belinda and Caleb signed their divorce papers to finalize their case.
Even if you have been planning to divorce for some time, there are steps you should take before you file and during the divorce that will better prepare you and protect you, your children, your finances and your case once the divorce process begins.
1. Do Not Sign Anything: If you know you are getting divorced or you and your spouse have discussed dissolving the marriage or even separating, do not sign anything until you talk to an attorney. People divorcing often sign papers believing it will cause less stress or that they can modify their written agreements at a later date. Unfortunately, if you sign something before the divorce about support or custody, there is a good chance a judge will enforce it, even temporarily.
2. Document Everything: The Court will consider the way the parties behaved prior to divorce as a basis for entering temporary orders including who pays what bills and who will see the children on which days. These temporary orders may become final orders and it is important to keep track of these things if you know you are headed for divorce. Keep a journal and record such things like who spends time with the children, who picks them up from school or takes them to appointment, who pays what bills, telephone calls, social media postings, etc. It is important to document everything no matter how big or small. Stick to the facts and keep it simple. Do not record conversations you had with your lawyer.
3. Call the police if needed: Under no circumstances should you tolerate domestic violence. If there is an act of domestic violence, it is important that you call the police and make a report. You should also file for a restraining order immediately.
1. Do not leave the State with your children: If you have lived in Nevada with your children for the last 6 months, the Nevada Court has jurisdiction over the children. Moving out of state and filing for divorce shortly thereafter will not change this fact, and most courts will not resolve custody issues if the children have not lived in that state at least 6 months before the filing of the divorce case. Taking the children out of state with the intent to move there may be considered parental kidnapping and the parent removing the children could be charged with a category D felony. You can take your children on vacation but you cannot move unless your spouse approves the move in writing or the Court issues an order allowing you to move.
2. Do not move out of the marital residence: If you move out of the home and do not take the children with you, there is a good chance the Court will consider this fact in a custody determination. While living with your spouse knowing you are getting divorce is not ideal, if you leave the house and do not take your children with you, the Court will likely consider this as your desire to give up custody. Talk to your spouse about a time share or ways to make living under the same roof less stressful.
3. Stay involved with your children: If you have to move out or need to be away from your spouse, stay involved in your children’s lives. Participate in their schooling activities, medical appointments and extra-curricular activities. Just because you are divorcing your spouse does not mean you are divorcing your children. If you do not stay involved prior to the divorce, there is a good chance the Court will consider this at the time of awarding custody and day-to-day decision making for the children.
1. Run a credit report today: One of the biggest mistakes we see in divorce cases is people run up debt or force the other party to run up debt in anticipation of a divorce. Run your credit report immediately so that you can show the Court what debts were owed and how much was owed prior to the divorce.
2. Establish a bank account in your name only: While you need to continue to contribute to the community debt and community obligations, you should immediately begin to separate your finances. Do not continue to deposit money into joint bank accounts. Tell your spouse that from now on you pay half of the obligations but will be paying them from a separate account. Talk to your spouse about how to meet the community obligations and who will pay which bills and which bills will be paid jointly.
3. Stop contributing to your retirement accounts, 401Ks, pensions, etc.: Everything you contribute to these accounts is community property and your spouse is entitled to half in Nevada. If you know you are getting divorced, stop contributing to these accounts. Otherwise, you are just giving your money away to your spouse. Use the money to pay down community debt or contribute for your children’s savings or college funds.
1. Protect Your Personal Possessions: Move valuable documents such as your passport, social security cards, birth certificates and other identifying information outside of your home. Do not secure them in your car or office. Move them to a friend’s house or a safe deposit box.
2. Get Copies of Important Documents: You should obtain copies of important documents such as joint tax returns, titles to vehicles, deeds to real property, bank statements and other important documents. Be sure your lawyer has copies of everything!
Like we said, ending any marriage can be difficult. Ending a short-term marriage can be emotional and upsetting.
It is important to find a family law attorney who can best represent your interests?
But what kind of lawyer should you hire and where do you start?
In this section, we outline how you can find the best family law attorney to help you end your short marriage
Our office gets calls and inquiries from all over the world from people who want to end their short-term marriage.
While we’d love to be able to help everyone, we are only licensed in Nevada. This means we can only help people who qualify for a divorce, annulment or legal separation in Nevada.
So before you begin calling family law attorneys who will just pass you off because they can’t help, you need to figure out where to file your case.
Normally, for an annulment you can file in Nevada if you were married in Nevada and live somewhere else or if you live in Nevada but were married somewhere else.
You can only file for divorce in Nevada if you meet the residency requirement. This means you have lived in Nevada for at least 6 weeks before you file for divorce.
And…if you have children from your short-term marriage, you will need to file where your children have lived for the last 6 months.
Once you have decided where to file to end your short-term marriage your search for a family law attorney can begin.
Once you’ve decided on the right venue for your case, begin to research prospective family law attorneys in your area.
Online research is one place to start.
There are many, many websites devoted to identifying lawyers in various specialties including family law.
Websites like Avvo, Findlaw and even Yelp offer profiles, breakdown lawyer specialties and provide reviews.
Just remember that like anything else, the internet isn’t always 100% accurate in depicting a lawyer’s knowledge or capabilities.
This is why, in addition to looking on-line, we suggest that you ask family and friends for recommendations.
Let’s face almost everyone knows someone who’s been divorced or through a custody case. Most people are happy to share information about their lawyer and even the opposing attorney if you just ask.
Another way to help narrow your choice might be to go to the Family Court in your area. Look around and ask around. Experienced and well respected family law attorneys will be known by court staff and will likely be visible throughout the courthouse.
If you have any attorney for other matters such as a personal injury case or estate planning, you might want to ask them for a referral. Be specific with them and tell them you want a lawyer that specializes in family law.
Finally, you should always check your state bar’s website to ensure that any attorney you find is actively licensed to practice law and has not been the subject of bar discipline.
Once you’ve identified a few family law attorneys that meet your qualifications and seem like they will be a good fit, you will need to set up an initial consultation with the attorney.
Keep in mind that the lawyer you hire will be your voice and your advocate throughout your case. We often tell people that hiring a family law attorney is like being in another relationship. We will get to know your most aspects of your life – your children, your debts, your assets, your needs and your secrets. So finding the right fit is very important.
When you interview prospective lawyers consider questions like:
Do they have experience with cases that are similar to my situation?
Do they talk down to me or do they explain things in a way I can understand?
Do I trust this person?
Do I feel better after I have talked to this person?
The answer to all of these questions should be “yes.” If it is not, then this lawyer is probably not a good fit for you.
If you think you have found a lawyer that meshes well with you and your needs you will want to be sure the lawyer can work within your budget.
After all finding a lawyer that’s a great fit won’t work if you cant afford the legal fees.
Most family law attorneys are accustomed to discussing fees and costs up front and will appreciate meeting a prospective client who also understands the need to budget wisely.
If you have the lawyer that fits, that you trust and like and that fits in your budget, move forward and end your short-term marriage.