True Duration of Alimony and the Supposed “10 Year Rule” in CA

family law attorneysWhen we think of divorce and family law in CA, alimony and spousal support are often at the forefront of people’s minds. It isn’t uncommon for the topic to pop up during casual chats about divorce, and people are quick to spread half-truths and gossip. This isn’t too surprising, considering the impact that alimony can have on anyone’s long-term financial health and planning. 

That said, it’s important to know fact from fiction, especially if you’re planning for or are currently in the middle of a divorce in CA. Today, we’re looking at how the duration of alimony is assessed. But first, let’s place a common “fact” about alimony under the microscope: the supposed “10 year rule” for alimony in CA.

What is the 10 Year Rule?

The concept is simple: people claim that if you’ve been married for over 10 years, you’ll be stuck with alimony for life if you divorce your spouse. The idea stems from California Family Code § 4336(a), which does have a “10 year rule.” However, its actual definition varies significantly from the common interpretation shared by many. 

In truth, this law states that, once a couple has been married for over 10 years, the court reserves the right to claim jurisdiction over alimony arrangements. This means that the court has the authority to determine how long alimony must be awarded for, but it does not mean that they automatically grant alimony for life. 

Furthermore, couples have some ways to avoid the court’s intervention entirely even in marriages older than 10 years. If a couple has their own pre-written agreement regarding alimony, the courts will often accept these in place of getting involved provided the agreement is not unreasonable or unfair.  

How is Alimony Determined During a CA Divorce?

So putting aside the myths surrounding the 10 year rule, how exactly is alimony determined in a California divorce? Even in marriages that have lasted longer than a decade, the courts don’t simply just award lifetime alimony. This is a possibility, but a rare one. 

For the most part, the determining factors include things such as:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • The earning potential of each spouse
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • Each spouse’s financial contributions to the household
  • Assets allocated to each spouse
  • Debts assigned to each spouse

Given these and other related factors, there’s clearly no solution or arrangement that is one-size-fits-all. This means that coworkers, friends, and relatives speculating is just that: speculating. 

If you’re looking for a deep dive into your specific situation, and want qualified guidance on your upcoming CA divorce, know that we at R & S Law Group, LLP are here to help. We offer free initial consultations, so don’t delay and reach out to us at (949) 825-5245 at your earliest convenience.