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Steven E. Sufrin, Attorney at Law
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Is alimony awarded in very short marriages?

Whether you are in getting divorced in Phoenix or elsewhere, most states see couples work through the same basic issues when going from "I Do to I'm Done".

At a minimum, the issues include dividing marital property and deciding whether one spouse will be responsible for alimony (a/k/a spousal support) of the other. In cases where minor children are involved, there are also emotionally-draining issues like child custody, child visitation, and child support to work out as well.
As far as spousal maintenance is concerned, courts will generally consider what's fair and reasonable under the particular circumstances of each couple's marriage. The purpose of alimony is to help the spouse who is receiving it maintain financial stability after a divorce. Historically, alimony was more often paid by husbands who were the primary or sole wage earners to wives who may have forgone their own further education or career-training to be stay-at-home mothers.

Today, with many couples being two-income families and many women being more educated and financially independent, spousal maintenance is less frequently awarded especially for the long-term. Still, it may be awarded on a short-term basis in cases where there is a great disparity between the partners' incomes or to allow one spouse time to further their education or training so they could improve their future earning potential or in other cases when the court feels there is a need. In long marriages or those with elderly spouses where one has limited to no ability to support themselves in the manner they were accustomed to (and no time to feasibly acquire skills or likely future job prospects), alimony may be permanent.

One of the things the court will consider when awarding alimony is the length of the marriage - with a longer marriage generally making the prospect of alimony a bit more likely.

Recently, Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage got married in Las Vegas reportedly while intoxicated and in a condition he later allegedly described as being "unable to understand his actions". Four days into his fourth marriage, he reportedly filed for an annulment or a divorce if an annulment is not possible. His new wife, a makeup artist, is reportedly seeking spousal support.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of the divorce case and what the potential long-term repercussions may be of a short, ill-fated Vegas marriage.

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