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The honeymoon is over…

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Most marriage vows refer to ‘til death do us part’ but sometimes they barely last past the honeymoon (Britney famously had her first marriage annulled after just 55 hours).

So, as the press start to claim that the infamous Mrs Hailey Bieber (nee Baldwin) has called in divorce lawyers after just six months of marriage to Justin, I started to think about the issues people face that want to divorce so soon after the big day.

Interestingly, if the couple were to commence divorce proceedings in the UK, the first stumbling block would be the fact that they have only been married for 6 months.

In the UK, you must be married for at least 1 year before you can file a divorce petition.  The only option you have prior to that is an annulment and there are only a handful of scenarios where that would be applicable.  For example, Hailey would have to prove that one of them did not consent to the marriage, for example due to duress, or that one of them was suffering from a mental disorder or venereal disease, or that the marriage had never been consummated.

The length of a marriage is an important factor in any divorce proceedings and this would be something to consider when looking at whether there should be any sort of financial order in this case.

In this situation, the couple are both celebrities and no doubt have their own significant personal wealth.  It is highly likely that they may have prenuptial agreements, particularly as these are very popular in the United States. However, if they have not and were getting divorced in the UK, then the Court has a wide discretion when deciding how to divide their assets, though inevitably arguments over assets being held pre-marriage would carry significant weight.

Consideration would be given to the fact that they do not have any children together and they are both financially independent.  If Hailey was not a global supermodel and had a very young baby, then she could be looking at a reasonable financial settlement to help her with her future as a single mother.

Another factor may be that she made financial sacrifices by entering the marriage and may need to be compensated for the same. This compensation does not necessarily have to mirror exactly what was sacrificed prior to or during the marriage as ultimately, they are both adults and both decided to enter a relationship with each other. However, if it was difficult for Hailey to move forward on her own then it could be reasonable for her to have some form of financial support in the short term.

If you have recently married and are concerned that you have made a mistake, I would recommend that you seek legal advice about what the consequences would be if you start divorce proceedings.

Alternatively, you can contact Relate, a charity specifically designed to assist couples that are going through relationship difficulties.


Victoria Clarke is a solicitor in Stowe Family Law’s Esher office. After completing her legal studies in Guildford, she trained with a regional Legal 500 firm and later worked in Surrey and Hampshire. Her experience includes complex financial assets as well as difficult matters concerning children.

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