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What is the “10-Year Rule” for Spousal Support in California?

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The common misconception is that when a couple that has been married for more than ten years gets a divorce, that alimony will be required to be paid indefinitely. However, that isn’t exactly the case. Our San Diego divorce attorney breaks down the law below.

How is the Duration of Alimony Determined?

Spousal support is ordered with the goal of the spouse being able to obtain support in order to care for themselves within a reasonable amount of time. The court has the discretion to decide what the duration of spousal support is. Typically, the duration of a permanent or long-term spousal support order is dependent on the length of the marriage.

When Does Alimony End for Marriages Lasting 10 Years or Longer?

Any marriage that is longer than ten years is automatically considered to be of long duration.

According to California law, in a marriage of “long duration,” the court has indefinite jurisdiction after the divorce is finalized. This means the court can continue to make decisions about alimony matters between the spouses and evaluate its original orders and modify them when necessary.

If one spouse believes that alimony is no longer necessary, they will have to bear the burden of proving that such factors exist that warrant the support order to be changed or reevaluated. To modify a permanent alimony order, it’s important to consult with an experienced San Diego alimony attorney.

How is Alimony Duration Determined in Short-Term Marriages?

In marriages that were less than ten years long, the duration of support will generally have a different time limit. In most cases, the general rule is that alimony will last for half the length of the marriage. This means there is a deadline for when spousal support will end. For example, if a couple was married for eight years, then spousal support will likely end after four years.

One half the length of the marriage is thought to be a “reasonable period of time” to help the spouse receiving alimony to become self-supporting. However, judges have the power to make a different decision based on the specific circumstances of the case.

Have questions about how alimony will be decided in your divorce? Call our San Diego divorce lawyer at Embry Family Law P.C. today at (619) 485-6476!

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