Can you get alimony after a short marriage?

Can you get alimony after a short marriage? Here’s a state-by-state guide on what to know based on where you are.

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What's Inside

Divorce doesn’t always mean the complete end of the connection between you and your spouse. Sometimes, one party is entitled to financial support from the other for several months or years after the ink has dried on their divorce decree. This may be the case even if your marriage didn’t last very long. So can you get alimony after two years of marriage or a short marriage? Maybe. 

Courts across the country take many factors into account when determining whether a divorcing spouse is entitled to alimony (also called spousal support or spousal maintenance). In most states, alimony may be possible after a short marriage ends, but your entitlement to such alimony depends on your circumstances and the specific facts of your case. 

Let’s take a look at what you might be able to expect when you or your spouse requests alimony in a divorce.

Can I get alimony after two years of marriage?

Whether you can get alimony after a short marriage depends on where you file for divorce and the circumstances of your breakup.

States that allow alimony after a short marriage

The vast majority of states don’t explicitly require that a marriage last a specific number of years before a spouse may be eligible to receive some type of alimony. These states include:

However, many of these states still factor in the length of a marriage when determining whether alimony is warranted and how much to award. Absent unusual circumstances, courts may hesitate to grant alimony for shorter marriages.

Even if a court determines that alimony is appropriate, a shorter marriage might reduce the duration of your alimony award. For instance, Delaware law doesn’t allow a spouse to receive alimony for a period longer than half the length of their marriage unless their marriage lasted for at least 20 years.

States that restrict or deny alimony after a short marriage 

Some states limit alimony if you’ve only been married a few years.

  • Maine divorce law presumes that long-term alimony for spouses married for fewer than 10 years should not be awarded. 
  • Texas divorce law may not allow you to seek alimony when ending a marriage that lasted fewer than 10 years unless you or your child has a disability or your spouse committed an act of family violence.
  • Florida law doesn’t allow a spouse to receive long-term alimony if their marriage lasted fewer than three years.
  • Colorado’s guidelines for calculating alimony begin at the three-year mark.

What type of alimony can I get?

Depending on where you live, alimony may come in several different forms, including:

  • Rehabilitative alimony
  • Reimbursement alimony
  • Transitional alimony

Alimony may also be temporary or permanent.

Rehabilitative alimony

Depending on the nature of a marriage relationship, one spouse might have a harder time than the other when trying to find a job that can support them after divorce. The purpose of rehabilitative alimony may be to help a spouse obtain a better earning capacity as a newly single person. This support may pay for:

  • Training
  • Work experience
  • Education

If you receive this type of support, the court might require you to follow a specific rehabilitation plan (for example, enrolling in and completing school courses to build up your resume). 

Transitional alimony

Transitional alimony (also called reorientation support or bridge-the-gap alimony) may be ordered in some states to help a spouse get used to their new life as a single person. This type of alimony might be paid for only a short amount of time. 

Reimbursement alimony

Reimbursement alimony is exactly how it sounds. If one spouse supported the other spouse during the marriage to help them obtain an education and a higher earning capacity, the court might order the supported spouse to pay reimbursement alimony.

What is alimony pendente lite?

Alimony pendente lite is a term for temporary alimony that a spouse may receive before they get their divorce decree. A court might award this type of alimony if it believes that the requesting spouse requires financial assistance during the divorce process. 

To establish that you have a right to this type of temporary alimony, the court might consider the same factors it considers when determining your right to alimony and the amount you should receive after your divorce is final. We discuss these factors in the next section.

How much alimony should I get?

Like the answer to many other legal questions, the answer to how much alimony you may receive is that it depends. Courts examine the unique facts of your case to calculate the amount of alimony you should receive. 

In many states, the factors the courts use for their calculations may include:

  • The amount of marital property each spouse will receive in the divorce
  • The financial needs the requesting spouse established during the marriage
  • The tax ramifications of an alimony award
  • The duration of the marriage 
  • Each spouse’s gross income
  • The contributions the requesting spouse made to the other spouse’s education or career
  • The earning capacity of each spouse
  • Any marital misconduct 
  • The age of each spouse
  • Each spouse’s assets and liabilities
  • The health of each spouse
  • The education level of each spouse
  • The contributions the requesting spouse made as a homemaker
  • The requesting spouse’s ability to meet their financial needs

After the court reviews these factors, it might determine that your alimony should be monthly payments of hundreds or thousands of dollars, or the court might award a one-time lump sum. 

How an attorney may help

You can typically choose to represent yourself in a divorce, but many people find the help of an attorney to be a boost. In a divorce case, an attorney can identify all factors that make you eligible for alimony and compile the evidence necessary to win an alimony award on your behalf. An attorney may also handle the difficult conversations you might have to have with your spouse about your post-divorce needs and rights. 

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Frequently asked questions

What is the shortest time you can be married and still get alimony?

In many states, there is no minimum time that you must be married before you may receive alimony. However, courts may hesitate to award alimony for shorter marriages.

What is the purpose of rehabilitative alimony?

The purpose of rehabilitative alimony is generally to increase a spouse’s ability to earn money and provide for their needs after divorce. The court may require the receiving spouse to follow a rehabilitation plan to increase their earning capacity, such as showing enrollment and progress in an educational program.

What is the purpose of temporary alimony?

Temporary alimony (also called alimony pendente lite) may be awarded to help a spouse fulfill their financial obligations while their divorce is pending.

How long will alimony last if you had a short marriage?

The duration of an alimony award you might receive depends on the facts of your case and where you file for divorce. After a short marriage, the duration of alimony is typically short, often consisting of rehabilitative or transitional alimony intended to get the receiving spouse back on their feet. Some states specifically limit the amount of time alimony can last based on the length of the marriage. For example, Delaware doesn’t allow spouses to receive alimony for an amount of time longer than half the time they were married if they were married for fewer than 20 years.

Disclaimer: This article is provided as general information, not legal advice, and may not reflect the current laws in your state. It does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not a substitute for seeking legal counsel based on the facts of your circumstance. No reader should act based on this article without seeking legal advice from a lawyer licensed in their state.

This page includes links to third party websites. The inclusion of third party websites is not an endorsement of their services.

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