"Is it true that you are automatically entitled to receive spousal support for a percentage of the number of years you were married?"
Two issues arise with regard to spousal support: the amount and the duration.
The duration of spousal support is closely linked to the length of the marriage. Frequently, practitioners speak of the "rule of thumb" that spousal support will last for one-half the length of the marriage. The duration is left to the sound discretion of the court within certain general equitable principles and guidelines most often set forth in the common law case histories. However, in marriages of less than ten years, the statute presumes that support should be granted for half the length of the marriage.
The California legislator has enacted a statute that indicates that when permanent support is established at the time of trial, it is an abuse of discretion for the court to set a future termination date if the marriage is of lengthy duration. The statute goes on to indicate that any marriage of ten years in duration is considered a lengthy marriage.
Today, the duration of spousal support is often linked to a transition period from married life to single life. The circumstances vary from person-to-person, but the courts tend to disfavor "lifetime support."
The court has a broad discretion in ascertaining the amount of spousal support as well as its duration. The factors that courts must take into consideration when deciding the amount and duration of spousal support include:
Aaron Dishon is a Certified Family Law Specialist practicing in Orange County. He is experienced in matters pertaining to divorce, custody, child support, spousal support, paternity, guardianship, and adoption.