Starter Marriage Blues

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A Short Marriage Early in Life Need Not Be Devastating

by Michael Heath

The term starter marriage is commonly seen as a first marriage that lasts five or fewer years and ends without the couple having any children together. These marital unions are often less complicated to dismantle and may not require a litigated approach.

Who Enters into a Starter Marriage?

Many who are familiar with the phrase qualify it even further by adding that people in these unions are no more than thirty to thirty-five years of age. In other words, the phrase “starter marriage” describes a short marriage between young people who have no children and little invested in the union. New York Times journalist Pamela Paul, who wrote The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony, helped introduce the term to the mainstream after finding that too many young couples enter marriage with the wrong intentions. She discovered many unusual and disturbing reasons why young people tie the knot, including to complete a power couple, as a way of moving out of their parents’ homes, a fascination with weddings, and the idea that it was easier to marry then it was to break up. These twenty- to thirty-somethings may have given too little thought to why they wedded, but if they later find themselves in a failed marriage, they owe it to themselves to consider how to divorce.

What Are the Options for Ending a Starter Marriage?

Marriage is a wonderful institution which should lead to positive life experiences. Divorce should only be contemplated when all other efforts to save it have failed. The end of a romantic union sanctified in the eyes of God (if you are a believer) and/or certified by the state is a tragedy. However, marriages often fall apart 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 new futures. When a couple has little in assets and no children between them, there is usually no reason to enter a legal battle. This is especially true if the divorce is mostly amicable. In mediation and collaborative divorce, the intent is to negotiate a settlement cooperatively rather than fight until the end. These two methods offer a solutions-based alternative to litigation that is based on an adversarial system employed by the courts. Exceptions to using these methods include when domestic or substance abuse is part of the marriage. In instances like those, retaining a traditional divorce attorney is recommended.

Can Couples Divorce Themselves?

Couples who experience a lower level of animosity, and agree on all the important issues, could consider a do-it-yourself divorce. States usually offer instructions on their websites on how to proceed that way. It is often a matter of downloading the required documents and filling them out before paying a court fee. Many law firms throughout the state have marital paralegals who, for a small fee, assist couples in obtaining a do-it-yourself divorce. Many mediators can also assist couples in this area.

 Smarter With the Divorce Than the Marriage

When young people find themselves in a hopeless marital situation, important decisions need to be made. Rather than run out and hire a divorce attorney, they should examine all their options. If they can divorce using mediation or collaborative divorce, the couple will most likely leave the marriage with less anger and more money in their pockets. Hopefully, once the divorce is final, they can move on with their lives in happiness while wiser from the experience.




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