Wife and husband signing divorce documents

How Long Does a Spouse Get
Spousal Support in California?

Law Office of Shelly Jean John May 5, 2022

Divorce often has significant financial ramifications for the spouses involved. To prevent any unfair economic effect of the marital dissolution, the California courts often award alimony – court-ordered financial support – to one of the spouses. How long spousal support will last often depends on the length of the marriage, the type of support, and other factors. An experienced California family law attorney can enlighten you about how spousal support works in the state and how long it might last.

At the Law Office of Shelly Jean John, I'm committed to offering experienced legal guidance and reliable advocacy to clients in family law matters, including divorce and alimony. I'm available to discuss your unique situation and enlighten you about how the amount, duration, and type of spousal support is determined in California. Also, I can walk you through the legal processes involved in establishing or modifying alimony and help you navigate crucial decisions in your divorce matters. My firm is proud to serve clients across Ontario, California, as well as Riverside, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County.

Alimony in California

Alimony can be described as a court-ordered payment by a spouse to their estranged spouse during the divorce proceedings or for a period of time after the divorce. In the state of California, the family courts may order the higher-earning spouse to provide financial assistance through periodic payments to the lower-earning or unemployed spouse. The spouse who makes the payment is the "payor spouse," while the spouse who receives the payment is the "payee spouse" or "supported spouse."

Types of Alimony

Here are some types of spousal support recognized by California courts:

  • Temporary Alimony: Temporary support is awarded to help the unemployed or lower-earning spouse with attorney fees and other daily expenses during the divorce proceedings. Temporary alimony ends immediately after the divorce is finalized.

  • Rehabilitative Alimony: Rehabilitative alimony is awarded to help the supported spouse complete their education, acquire a job skill, or secure employment to become self-supporting.

  • Reimbursement Alimony: Reimbursement alimony is awarded if one spouse funded the skill acquisition, job training, or education of their estranged partner. This will help recompense one spouse for the expenses of the other spouse through alimony payments.

  • Permanent Alimony: Permanent alimony or long-term support will be awarded in extremely rare cases – usually decade-long marriages – to place the supported spouse at or close to the "marital standard of living" even after the divorce. Long-term support is often awarded when the supported spouse is unable to become self-supporting due to a severe illness, old age, disability, or some medical conditions.

  • Lump-Sum Alimony: Lump-sum alimony involves paying the entire amount of spousal support in a single (lump-sum) payment instead of periodically. Also, lump-sum payments can be made using a property settlement.

A knowledgeable California divorce attorney can help decide the right alimony for you and enlighten you about how long it might last.

Determination of Alimony Duration

In California, the duration of support depends on the length of the marriage. Generally, if the marriage lasted for less than ten years, the duration of spousal support payments is presumed to be one-half of the length of the marriage. For instance, if the couple was married for six years, alimony is presumed to be three years.

However, there is no automatic duration or termination date for decade-long marriages. If the spouses were married for more than 10 years, the unemployed or lower-earning spouse would receive support payments for as long as they need to, provided that the other spouse has the ability and resources to pay support.

When Does Alimony End?

In California, spousal support typically ends when:

  • A court order ends the payments

  • One of the spouses dies

  • The supported spouse remarries or registers a new domestic partnership

An experienced alimony attorney can walk you through the process of modifying or terminating alimony in California and help you navigate crucial decisions.

The Importance of Hiring Skilled Counsel

Filing for divorce in California often involves a lot of complicated procedures. Establishing alimony agreements with your ex-spouse and reaching a fair divorce settlement can make the whole process even more stressful and overwhelming. Therefore, when considering a divorce, getting skilled legal counsel from an experienced divorce attorney is crucial to explore your available legal options regarding spousal support and help you navigate intelligent decisions.

At the Law Office of Shelly Jean John, I have devoted my career to providing outstanding legal services and guiding clients through the complexities of divorce and spousal support. As your attorney, I can help you understand the various alimony options that may be available to you and determine how long it might last. Using my extensive knowledge, I will work diligently with both parties to establish a fair alimony arrangement and help resolve other pending relationship matters amicably and quickly.

Contact my firm – the Law Office of Shelly Jean John – today to schedule a simple consultation with a skilled alimony attorney. I can offer you the reliable advocacy and knowledgeable legal counsel you need to navigate important decisions in your divorce and family legal matters. My firm proudly serves individuals and families across Ontario, California, as well as Riverside, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County.