If you’ve read the gossip tabloids today, you probably know now that Kaley Cuoco, actress from The Big Bang Theory and Ryan Sweeting, a pro tennis player, have recently decided to end their 21- month marriage. Apparently things were getting rough for the couple who had only dated 3 months before tying the knot. To read more about the split on Glamour Magazine, click here.
This short-term marriage is not uncommon. The Atlantic recently wrote an article entitled The Divorce-Proof Marriage, which discussed how factors such as income, length of dating and even how many people attend your wedding affect your likelihood for divorce. They discuss that “a strong marriage, is an intentional one,” not one that is done without thinking beforehand. The article deconstructs a study conducted at Emory University demonstrating that couples who date more than a year before marriage are 20% less likely to end in divorce, and marriages after three years of dating, 39% more likely. Of course, we have to think that age is also a huge factor among other circumstances, but length of dating before marriage is definitely key. It is very common for our clients to mention that a lack of ‘getting to know’ their partner before marriage led to many surprises after marriage –which ultimately brings them to our doors.
But, let’s not focus on the decisions made prior to marriage. What does a short-term marriage look like in a divorce? Well spousal maintenance is not available, absent extreme circumstances such as family violence- (for more info see Texas Family Code Section 8.051). Further, the only income up for division in Texas is any income accumulated AFTER marriage. So, for example, any income/assets Kaley Cuoco and Ryan Sweeting owned before marriage are off the table- the only items up for division are assets and income accumulated after the date they were married- so to date 21 months, but please note, your spouse is still entitled to accumulation of income/assets until the date of divorce. Many clients are under the mistaken assumption that once they have filed for divorce, that is the stopping time. That is incorrect. The community estate is everything accumulated by either spouse until the date the judge signs off on your decree and pronounces you divorced (absent an agreement with your spouse to the contrary).
California is a whole different ball-game, though. So please keep in mind this is only a discussion of Texas law.
If you’ve been in a short-term marriage or have more questions about divorce, please do not hesitate to contact our law firm at 214-692-8200.