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How long does spousal support last in California?

On Behalf of | Sep 12, 2022 | Family Law

If you have been married for what is considered a long time or if you or your spouse make significantly more money than the other, the judge may order spousal support in your divorce proceedings.

When spousal support is ordered, no matter if you are paying the support or receiving it, you will likely want to know how long it will last. Several factors determine the length of spousal support payments in California. 

The longer the marriage lasted, the longer the spousal support would likely be

Spousal support lasts for a reasonable amount of time. The “reasonable” aspect of this is determined by looking at how long it will take the spouse receiving the payments to become self-supporting. In this situation, the longer you were married, the longer the spousal support payments will last (in most cases). 

Typically, the court will start with these basics:

  • In marriages that last under 10 years, the support lasts for half the length of the marriage.
  • In marriages over 10 years, there is no general assumption regarding what is reasonable.

In longer-term marriages (those lasting more than 10 years), the support will likely last as long as the spouse requires the support and as long as the other spouse can pay. This may be several years or more. 

When may spousal support end?

Several situations may cause spousal support to end, including:

  • The end date is agreed on in writing and the court signs it
  • The court orders it will end
  • The person receiving support remarries
  • Either of the spouses dies

Whether you are ordered to pay or receive spousal support, it’s important to understand how long it will last. Also, there are legal options to modify spousal support orders when necessary. Because this is a complicated area of the law, experienced legal guidance is wise.