Divorce is difficult but marriages of long duration bring with them their own set of complexities. It is important to have a knowledgeable divorce attorney to represent your best interests and to educate you about your options.
One of the more contentious issues in a long-term marriage, one lasting ten years or more, is spousal support. Many miss the purpose of spousal support, which is to give the lower or non-earning spouse financial support. The bottom line is in many cases the court will expect the party receiving support to reach a point where they are self-supporting in a reasonable amount of time.
The 10-Year Rule in California
It is a misconception that when a couple divorces after more than 10-years that alimony will be paid indefinitely. Indeed, when a marriage lasts ten years or longer it is considered to be of long duration. Under California Family Law, the court can retain jurisdiction to make modifications, except if there is written agreement of both parties to the contrary or if a court order terminates support. This means if jurisdiction is retained spousal support is modifiable based on a change of circumstance presented by either party.
Factors to Be Considered in Awarding Support
Just because one has been married for 10-years or longer, does not mean that spousal support is automatic. It is not uncommon for spouses, who earn similar wages to terminate support. In some instances, spouses will come up with their own determination as to what support will look like, determine the length of support or even create a buyout. When the issue is negotiated by attorneys or determined by a judge, there are 14 factors under the Family law that are considered. Some of these factors include:
- The education and skills of the supported party.
- The extent to which one party supported the other in the attainment of their education.
- The need of each party is based on the standard of living established during the marriage.
- A finding or conviction of spousal abuse or domestic violence.
- The balance of hardships between the parties so that the payor is not unduly burdened.
Modification of Support
Nobody can predict their circumstance two, five, or even ten years post-divorce. The party paying support may lose their job. The party receiving support may receive an inheritance, making the need for support unnecessary. There are many situations, which might warrant the need for the courts to re-evaluate the issue of spousal support.
The party asking the court to modify the support order bears the burden of proof. This spouse should work with their attorney who can assist them in putting together facts to show cause that the alimony should in fact be modified.
In some instances, mediation can be the quickest and most cost-effective way to go about modifying a long-term marriage court order. Your lawyer can assist in preparing the facts for mediation such as articulating exactly what is at stake, unraveling complicated issues for the mediator, and specifically setting clear and realistic changes.
There is no rule in a 10-year or longer marriage that requires that support must last indefinitely. Contact a certified family law attorney, like the attorneys at Buncher Family Law, to better understand the issue of spousal support among other complex divorce issues.