Marriage is a legal contract entered between a man and woman intending to become husband and wife. Marriage creates a legal relationship between husband and wife with rights and obligations governed by state law. Requirements for marriage vary from state to state, but usually require a man and woman to pay a minimal fee and apply for a marriage license from a county court clerk in the state in which they plan to be married. In Tennessee, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-113 recognizes marriage between a man and a woman as the only legal marital contract.
Marriages are classified as short-term or long-term marriages based upon the number of years the marriage subsists. The time period differs by state. Generally, short term marriages are marriages which last for a period below 10 years. Marriages extending up to three, four, five, six,or eight years are all classified as short-term marriages. For example, the Tennessee case, Demontbreun v. Demontbreun, 1997 Tenn. App. LEXIS 892 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1997) which focuses on the financial aspects of the dissolution of a short-term marriage refers a marriage which extended for a period of approximately four years as a short term marriage.