Spousal support or alimony is sometimes necessary to make divorce feasible. If one spouse has left the workforce entirely or only performed part-time jobs because they devoted themselves to caring for the marital home or raising children, they will need support to cover their basic cost of living expenses in the first months following their separation from their spouse.
However, while spousal support is often necessary, it can also be a source of bitter disagreement in pending divorce proceedings. Spouses often disagree about how long social support should last and also how much someone will pay every month. Some couples do eventually work out their disagreements and file an uncontested divorce where they have already settled spousal support matters.
Those who reach a mutual agreement can theoretically set any terms that they deem reasonable. However, if you go to court, then a judge will apply state law to all spousal support decisions. How long will spousal support typically last after a California divorce?
The length of the marriage determines the duration of support
A judge considering a contested support request will look at various factors about the family’s situation, including how long the marriage lasted in the role each spouse performed for the family. Those who make career sacrifices and currently cannot command a competitive wage may potentially qualify for spousal support.
A judge will consider how long the couple remained together and the degree of need for the dependent spouse when deciding how long the support payments will last. If the marriage was under 10 years in duration, a judge will typically only award alimony for at most half as long as the marriage lasted. If a couple divorces after eight years of marriage, a dependent spouse might receive up to four years of spousal support payments.
If the couple has remained married for more than a decade, spousal support payments are not subject to a specific rule regarding how long they last. Much will be left to the judge’s discretion if the couple cannot settle the matter outside of court. Regardless of the terms they set, the payments will end when the dependent spouse remarries in the future.
Understanding the rules that will apply in litigated spousal support proceedings might help you reach a more reasonable settlement with your spouse outside of court or give you an idea of what goals to set for litigation.