Are you entitled to support based on the number of years married?

Find out how long spousal support is usually paid, and the many factors taken into account when deciding both this and the amount.

By Divorce Magazine
May 25, 2006
CA FAQs/Alimony and Spousal Support

"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:

  • The financial ability of each party to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The extent to which the supported party contributed to the attainment of an education, training, a career position, or a license by the supporting party;
  • The ability of the supporting party to pay support;
  • The needs of each party, based on the standard of living during the marriage;
  • The obligations and assets of each party, including separate property;
  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and health of the parties;
  • Documented evidence of any history of domestic violence;
  • The tax consequences to each party;
  • The goal that the supported party will be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time;
  • The criminal conviction of an abusive spouse.

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.


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By Divorce Magazine| May 25, 2006
Categories:  FAQs

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