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Why courts consider the length of marriage when awarding alimony

On Behalf of | Nov 13, 2023 | Family Law

California courts generally follow a set of guidelines when determining whether to order spousal support during a divorce and if so, how much they will award. Understandably, these guidelines include financial factors, such as each spouse’s income and available assets.

However, some factors do not have an obvious connection to alimony, especially for nonlegal individuals, including the length of marriage.

Income dependability

While double-income marriages are common, there usually is a gap between spouses’ incomes, with one earning more than the other. In other cases, only one spouse works while the other assumes household and childcare duties. Accordingly, one will be more dependent on the income of the other to cover all household and related expenses.

The longer the marriage, the more the less-earning or non-earning spouse has become dependent on the other spouse’s income for support. After the divorce, the dependent spouse would be in a tougher position to start over financially. Hence, the courts usually award spousal support for longer marriages, provided the other factors also hold up the decision.

Accustomed lifestyle

Similarly, spouses get used to a certain standard of living during their marriage. The longer the marriage, the more each spouse has grown accustomed to their lifestyle. This is why the courts consider ordering spousal support for longer marriages. Nonetheless, judges will not necessarily award alimony to maintain the same lifestyle, but only to an extent that would be comparably comfortable for the relying spouse.

Getting proper guidance

Carefully navigating every aspect of a divorce is crucial in protecting your interests. The process can be scary and overwhelming, but you do not have to go through it alone. Working with a legal advocate can help you understand the process better and make informed decisions.