Alimony in California after a long-term marriage is often a bit different from alimony after a shorter-term marriage.
There’s actually a popular myth that says if you’ve been married for 10 years or more, you’re entitled to receive alimony (or that you’ll have to pay) for the rest of your life… but that’s exactly what it is: a myth.
Alimony in California After a Long-Term Marriage
The length of your marriage certainly can have an effect on how long you’ll receive alimony – and it can even affect the amount that changes hands. However, there’s nothing in the law that says you’ll receive or pay spousal support for life. What the law does say involves only how long the court maintains jurisdiction over spousal support in your case.
Learn about the differences between long-term and temporary spousal support here.
The 10-Year Rule: Long-Term Marriages vs. Short-Term Marriages
California law generally defines a long-term marriage as one that lasts 10 years or more. Anything less than that is a short-term marriage (even if it feels like an eternity).
Spousal Support in a Long-Term Marriage
The law that governs spousal support says that in a long-term marriage, the court maintains its power over spousal support indefinitely.
Here’s an example:
The court orders spousal support for a term of five years. When the support terminates, the receiving spouse says that he or she still needs it. The court has the power to revisit the issue and has the authority to order the payer to resume his or her payments.
If the marriage lasted fewer than 10 years and wasn’t considered a long-term marriage, the court wouldn’t have the power to revisit the issue or order the payer to resume payments.
Retroactive Spousal Support
Under California law, courts are allowed to make spousal support retroactive. Here’s an example:
The court orders spousal support in August of this year, but the court makes it retroactive to January 1. That means the payer must pay alimony from that date, even though the court didn’t actually order support until August. In many cases, the retroactive date (in this case, January 1) is the date that the requesting spouse actually filed the request for alimony.
What Governs the Amount and Duration of Spousal Support in a Long-Term or Short-Term Marriage
When a court orders alimony, it has to look at several factors, including:
- Each party’s earning capacity
- How much the supported party contributed to the supporting party’s education, career or licensure
- The supporting party’s ability to pay
- Each spouse’s needs based on the standard of living established during the marriage
- Each spouse’s assets and obligations
- The duration of the marriage
- Each spouse’s age and health
- Evidence of a history of domestic violence or criminal convictions
- Tax repercussions for each spouse
- The balance of hardships to each party
- The ultimate goal that the supported party will be self-supporting within a reasonable amount of time
- Any other factors the court feels are just and equitable
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Alimony in California After a Long-Term Marriage or Short-Term Marriage?
If you need to talk to a Stockton divorce attorney about spousal support or other issues, we may be able to help you.
Call us at (209) 546-6870 to schedule a consultation with California divorce attorney Anna Maples today.