Does the length of your marriage affect finances on divorce?

by Kidd Rapinet on February 10, 2022
Reshma Sunnassee

The law in England requires the court to consider the length of a marriage when deciding how matrimonial property and finances should be divided on divorce and separation.

What is a ‘short marriage’?


Usually it is viewed a 5 year or less but in the landmark case of Sharp v Sharp, the court departed from this perception and a marriage of 6 years including a prior cohabitation of 18 months was viewed as a short marriage. However, you should note that financial contributions to a relationship will be considered from the date you began living together and not just from the date of marriage until usually the date of separation and not necessarily the date of the end of the legal marriage.

The division of assets

In the majority of marriages, assets should be divided equally between the parties. This “equality” should then be adjusted according to the parties’ reasonable needs. It is sometimes appropriate in short marriage cases for assets acquired before the relationship to be ringfenced and excluded from the matrimonial ‘pot’. The court considers  a departure from equality if there are certain factors to consider such as;

  • Are there any children?
  • Is it a short marriage?
  • Is the income dual?
  • Are the finances separated?

In essence, where a marriage has been short and there are no children, the court may require the couple to undertake a financial clean break order so that neither party to the divorce has any further financial interest in the other’s affairs.

This article was brought to you by Reshma, a family lawyer in our Aylesbury office.  You can book a no-obligation appointment with Reshma or any of our family lawyers using the form provided.

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