When a California couple is thinking about ending their marriage, they may be given a lot of advice, much of it unsolicited and incorrect. Like every marriage is different, every divorce is different as well. However, one of the most commonly misinterpreted statements made is that alimony is guaranteed for life if a couple has been married for 10 years. This is not the case, and couples should not stay together in order to reach this alleged milestone.
What is the spousal support rule in California?
Spousal support is supposed to provide financial assistance to a spouse who is not going to be in the same financial position after the divorce is finalized. One party may have left their job or never pursued a job to stay at home and they may be at a significant financial disadvantage after a divorce. Spousal support is a way to even the playing field, but for a limited amount of time.
The general presumption is that support will be provided for one-half the duration of the marriage. While this is considered a reasonable period of time, courts hold the discretion to order it for a longer or shorter period of time, depending on the circumstances of the marriage.
10 year rule
A marriage that lasted 10 years or more in California is considered a long duration one. While support would once again likely be ordered for half the marriage, the court would retain jurisdiction over the matter. This means that a change of circumstances could lead the court to order support to last longer. This does not mean that alimony does not last indefinitely.
Courts consider a number of factors when deciding spousal support and it is up to the parties to prove their circumstances. To ensure one portrays an accurate picture of their financial situation after a divorce, it might be helpful to get the assistance of an experienced attorney.