Long-Term v. Short Term Marriages
What Matters Most?
Upon the dissolution of a long marriage, in many cases an equal division of marital property is appropriate. The inverse presumption is that a short-term marriage may require an unequal division of property to be equitable.
In a short marriage, the most important factor for the court in equitable distribution is each party’s contribution to the acquisition of marital assets. For example, in the McKee-Johnson case, the parties had been married for seven years, had one child, had established careers prior to the marriage, and had acquired property totaling over $500,000 during the marriage. In that case, the husband was awarded 60 percent of the marital assets because the court recognized his “expertise in increasing the parties’ wealth.” Minnesota courts have also recognized the appropriateness in restoring parties to their separate status before a short marriage