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Reaching the 10 Year Mark: Long Duration of Marriage Impacts Spousal Support


Hollywood has been all atwitter over a highly anticipated split between two megastars, US Weekly recently reported. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner have called it quits. On June 30, 2015, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner finally announced publicly that they are splitting up after ten years and one day of marriage. But why did they wait? Does getting divorced after ten years have legal significance? Many speculate that due to both Ben and Jennifer’s immense careers, accumulated wealth and future earning potential, the couple wanted to take advantage of California’s ten year rule concerning spousal support.

California’s 10 Year Rule And Its Impact on Spousal Support

Under California law, when a marriage lasts for ten years or more, the marriage is deemed to have been of a “long duration” and the court is unable to terminate spousal support payments so long as spousal support is necessary. To say this another way, the court may identify a termination date for the spousal support; however, the supported ex-spouse may request an extension of the spousal support payments so long as it can be shown that the support is still needed and the supported spouse has not remarried.

When a marriage lasts fewer than ten years, spousal support generally only lasts as long as one-half the duration of the marriage. For example, if the marriage lasted seven years, three and a half years of spousal support will likely be awarded to the lower income-earning spouse.

Court Retains Ability to Make Alimony Orders in Long Duration Cases

One unique aspect of divorces that occur after ten or more years of marriage is that the court retains the power to make orders concerning spousal support under California Family Code 4336. This means that the couple can always go back to the court that had jurisdiction over their divorce to handle spousal support order modifications and extensions in the future.

California Family Code 4336(a) gives couples the ability to negotiate a spousal support agreement themselves and specifically address the termination of spousal support and whether the court will retain the power to extend spousal support beyond the agreed upon termination date. Couples whose marriage is of long duration and that are interested in taking the matter of spousal support into their own hands should consult with an experienced California divorce lawyer about creating a spousal support agreement as part of their divorce settlement, as the language required to address these special issues is specific and must be recited precisely in the agreement.

Contacting a Ventura Family Law Attorney

Divorces can happen in marriages of any length, but when a marriage is deemed to have been one of “long duration,” there are additional things to consider when it comes to spousal support. Whether you were the main income earner during your marriage, or if you primarily stayed home to raise your children, you will likely deal with spousal support issues in your divorce. Let the professionals at Negley Law, APC assist you with the divorce process and help you understand your spousal support options. When you need a family law attorney in Ventura County, or if you have questions regarding your divorce settlement, spousal support or other family law issues, do not hesitate tocontact our law firm at anytime. Our initial consultations are free, and we look forward to meeting with you. Call Negley Law, APC today at (805) 464-7315 to learn more.

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