Does a 10-Year Marriage Guarantee Alimony in California?

Not necessarily. Permanent alimony lasting until a spouse passes away is somewhat of a misnomer. The duration of permanent spousal support payments are often confused with military spouse retirement payments (which may last until the payee spouse passes away).

As mentioned in the Spousal Support Overview lesson, temporary spousal support last throughout the duration of the divorce process. As a general rule, for marriages that are less than 10 years, a permanent spousal support order may last for half the duration of the marriage. For example, for a marriage of one year, a spouse may receive up to six months of spousal support payments per court order (this obligation may be satisfied through temporary support payments). There is no hard-set rule as to the duration of permanent support for marriages that are just shy of the 10 year mark.

The court may not set a spousal support duration for a marriage that is greater than 10 years. The payor spouse will have to demonstrate to the court that spousal support is only necessary for a specified period. Note, the supported spouse may request for support to be extended by court motion before the termination date. In addition, a spouse may request to stop paying support upon retiring. Payments may also be reduced if the payee spouse suffers a significant pay deduction.

Spouses can negotiate community assets in exchange for receiving or paying spousal support payments as well. If you are receiving or paying spousal support while residing in California, consult with a CPA to see how much money you may save or pay on your income taxes. View our Spousal Support Taxes lesson for more information.

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