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How Long Do Alimony Payments Last in California?

May 1, 2022, In Spousal Support

At WHITMARSH FAMILY LAW, PC, our family law attorney in Los Angeles knows that while spousal support may be awarded to one spouse during their California divorce proceedings, the duration of the payments may differ for each couple.

Here is what divorcing couples need to know about alimony payments, and how long they could potentially last after the divorce is finalized.

Who is Typically Ordered to Pay Spousal Support in California?

Multiple factors will be reviewed when it comes to who — if anyone — is required to pay spousal support upon their divorce.

That could include both spouses’ existing financial make-up, like their current incomes, assets, debts, education levels, and current and future earning capacity.

Spousal support can be ordered to be paid temporarily, or as rehabilitative payments while one spouse works towards establishing their financial stability after the divorce.

One spouse may be awarded reimbursement alimony if he or she supported the other through college, a graduate program, or while building a business, which resulted in the latter spouse earning more money.

One spouse may also receive a lump-sum payment, which removes the potential for lengthy or ongoing payments if he or she makes a one-time payment that satisfies the terms of the agreement.

How Long Do Spousal Support Payments Last in California?

Certain legal principles and guidelines will determine how long one spouse is ordered to pay alimony.

Generally, spousal support is awarded based on the length of the marriage.

Long-term marriages — typically defined as such by lasting for more than ten years — often result in spousal support payments that may be assigned for an indefinite term.

When a marriage is dissolved in fewer than ten years, the general rule is that spousal support will last for half the length of a marriage.

Keep in mind, all divorces, spousal support awards, and their duration of payment are unique to each marriage. To learn more about your personal circumstances, and what you may be financially entitled to, contact our skilled Los Angeles divorce attorney to learn more about your eligibility to pursue alimony, in what amount, and for how long.

When Can Spousal Support Be Terminated in California?

When spouses cannot come to a private alimony agreement, which would include the duration of payment, the determination may be made by a California Family Court Judge.

Common ways alimony is terminated may include:

  • The death of either spouse.
  • The spouse who receives alimony payments gets remarried.
  • A court order includes specific date for when the spousal support payments end.

Since the terms of each divorce vary, it is important to partner with a skilled spousal support lawyer in Los Angeles who will put your best monetary interests first. We can help, starting with a free initial consultation.

Can a Spousal Support Agreement Be Modified in California?
The legally binding terms of a spousal support agreement may be adjusted based on the earning ability of the paying spouse or the needs of the receiving spouse.

Common reasons one spouse would request a modification hearing include a change in income due to unemployment, suffering an injury, or retirement, or the recipient’s qualifying needs.

Contact WHITMARSH FAMILY LAW, PC Today to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you have questions about divorce and spousal support, or how you can pursue a modification, contact our skilled family law attorneys in Los Angeles County at WHITMARSH FAMILY LAW, PC by calling (310) 552-3505 to schedule a free consultation today.

We can help provide solutions that produce results.


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If you are considering a Divorce in Los Angeles, CA, Contact our experienced Attorney Today and Get a Free Consultation.

Give us a call 310-552-3505