The term starter marriage is defined by Wikipedia as a first marriage that lasts five years and ends without the couple having any children together. Many who are familiar with the phrase qualify it even further by adding that people in these unions are no more than 30 to 35 years of age. In other words, the two words side-by-side describe a short marriage between young people who have no children and little invested in the matrimonial union. Pamela Paul who wrote The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony helped introduce the term to the mainstream and found that too many young couples enter into marriage with the wrong intentions. She discovered many unusual and disturbing reasons why young people tie the knot and following are some on her list: to complete a power couple, as a way of moving out of their parent’s home, a fascination with weddings and the idea that it was easier to marry then it was to break up. These 20 to 30 somethings may have given too little thought to why they were getting wed, but if they later found themselves in a failed marriage they owed it to themselves to give greater consideration on how to divorce.
Marriage should be held in high regard and in no way do I advocate divorce which clearly is not a positive experience. The end of a romantic union sanctified in the eyes of God (if you are a believer) and certified by the state, is a tragedy. However, marriages often fail and how they end is critical to the spouses’ chances to move on with their lives in satisfying ways. Litigated divorces can be extremely expensive and emotionally taxing, hampering people’s ability to build a new future. When a couple has little in assets and no children between them, it makes sense in most cases to use mediation or collaborative law to end the marriage. This is especially true if the divorce is mostly amicable. In mediation and collaborative law the intent is to work things out rather than fight it out. Mediation and collaborative law use cooperation as the foundation of its proceedings as opposed to litigation that is based on an adversarial system employed by the courts. Possible exceptions to these alternative approaches would be when extreme physical abuse or substance abuse is part of the marriage. In instances like those, hiring a traditional divorce litigator would be better.
When young people find themselves in a hopeless marital situation they will need to make some very important decisions. Rather than run out and hire a divorce attorney they should examine all their options. If they are able to divorce using mediation or collaborative law they will most likely leave the marriage with less anger and more money in their pockets than if they had chosen litigation. Hopefully when the divorce is final they can move on with their lives in happiness while being wiser from the experience.
Michael Heath is the CEO of The Courtless Divorce, LLC and can be contacted via the website www. thecourtlessdivorce.com