I will be awarded alimony, how long can I expect to collect it for?
Being awarded alimony, otherwise known as spousal support in California, is based on a number of factors that are set forth in Family Code §4320. Some of those factors are the income of the spouses, the length of the marriage, the health of the parties, the age of the parties, the assets of the parties, the debts of the parties and, most importantly, the marital standard of living of the parties that they enjoyed when they were married and living together.
If your marriage is deemed a “lengthy” marriage, typically over 10 years, there can be no termination date of the spousal support at the time of the divorce. It will continue until the death of either party or the remarriage of the recipient spouse. It also will be continued until there is a new order made which either increases or decreases the order but this can only occur if there is a substantial change in the circumstances of the parties following the imposition of the original order for spousal support.
If the marriage is less than 10 years, then there is a rebuttable presumption that spousal support should be paid for one-half the length of the marriage. However, the court has discretion on how long this should last. For example, if there is a marriage of short duration, say less than 3 years, it is quite possible the court could order no spousal support at all, not even for one-half the length of the marriage. If the marriage is closer to the 10 years, depending upon the circumstances, the court may not set a termination date.
Spousal support is probably one of the most litigated areas of family law due to the nebulous aspect of the 4320 factors mentioned above. It is a highly technical concept of family law which requires a substantial amount of knowledge in this area. You need to consult with a certified family law specialist who is an attorney who has completed an inordinate amount of trials and other court matters in the areas of family law and who has taken a second bar exam to become specialized in this highly technical field of family law.
John Gilligan is a founding partner at the family law firm offices of Brandmeyer Gilligan Dockstader & Davidson, LLP in Long Beach, CA. John has over 30 years of experience handling family law, probate litigation, and estate planning matters. He can be reached directly at 562-431-2000.
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