How long might spousal support need to be paid after my divorce?

Every California family law case is different and people will inevitably wonder what the future holds. For those who are getting divorced and are thinking about spousal support – also referred to as alimony – there are myriad facts to be aware of.

From both perspectives, a common concern is how long the spousal support order will last. The paying party could be worried as to the duration and what it will cost. The receiving party will want to keep getting the payments to maintain their marital lifestyle and support themselves at least until they have the training and experience to pay their own way.

What are the basic parts of a spousal support order?

The circumstances will determine if there is a support order, how much it will be and how long it lasts. Those who were in a long marriage may get support for an extended time-period. Other reasons for which there will be a long-term support order include one person earning much more or having substantially greater assets than the other.

A fundamental factor in how long support will be paid will be the duration of the marriage. When the case begins, the judge will start from the position that marriages that were shorter than a decade will warrant payments for approximately half the duration of the marriage. If it went beyond 10 years, each case is assessed based on its own merits. Generally, there could be an extended order to pay support for a longer marriage.

The court can also determine when support will terminate. The parties can agree on their own end date. If the person receiving support gets married, then the support will stop. A person getting support payments might need to go to school, get work-related training or reestablish their credentials to self-support. The payments will continue until this is achieved.

The judge will look at the marital duration; the parties’ age and health; how much they earned or could earn; the standard of living; property and debt; current employment and financial status; if there were ancillary issues such as abuse; and if there are children.

With the complexities of spousal support, it is useful to be prepared

In family law cases, it is important for those involved to have a basic understanding of how spousal support is ordered, its duration and if there is flexibility in these matters. From the start, it is essential to know the primary objective and to have help. This can go a long way in reaching an acceptable outcome that addresses all needs no matter if it is for the person paying support or the one receiving it.