The California 10-Year Rule
Updated: Apr 6, 2020
How many years you've been married determines how long support will be paid.
When you make the decision to divorce, it’s possible that you won’t be in the same financial position as your spouse. You might be a stay at home parent, working multiple jobs, or have a smaller salary. Figuring out the details regarding your finances after divorce can be frightening. While divorce at any stage of life can be financially complicated, it becomes even more complicated when you have been married ten or more years in the state of California. California courts consider marriages of at least ten years to be a “marriage of long duration.” If a marriage is considered to be of long duration, the courts will maintain jurisdiction (in other words control) over the issue of spousal support indefinitely. This does not mean that the court will automatically or always award you spousal support for life, but it will retain the ability to award you spousal support indefinitely in a marriage of over ten years. The question of whether you will owe your husband or wife money after divorce has to do with the amount of money that is earned by each partner. If you work a full-time job and your husband or wife stays home to take care of the children, the full-time worker would have a considerably higher income. If you are considered to have a higher income, you might find yourself financially supporting your spouse after the divorce. There are factors that generally determine whether you will be responsible for spousal support: ● The amount the supported spouse is entitled to maintain the type of lifestyle they had during the marriage ● Whether the supported party can easily get a job ● Age and health of the parties ● Ability of the supporting party to pay support ● Any other factors the court determines are “just and equitable.”
Once there is a final order to pay support, there are very few ways to reverse the situation, but it is possible. It’s important to consult with an attorney so you can find out exactly what applies to your case. During a consultation, a lawyer can help you to confirm whether you have a long-term marriage and the attorney can look at how much spousal support could be ordered.
Don’t try to navigate the difficulties of spousal support alone. If you have questions about the process or would like legal advice on how to best handle your individual situation, we are here to help.
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