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How Long Do You Have to Pay Alimony After a Divorce?

How Long Do You Have to Pay Alimony After a Divorce?

October 24, 2018

How Long Does Spousal Support Last in CA?

One of the questions that most couples have after a divorce revolves around alimony. Alimony / spousal support is the payment from one spouse to another either during the divorce or after the divorce is finalized. The court requires a written agreement or order that states how the payor spouse will make payments to support the other spouse before any payments are made.

The most common question couples ask us is “how long does alimony last?” Today, our blog answers that question!

Types of Alimony in California

How long alimony lasts depends on several factors, including the type of alimony, the length of the marriage, earning capacity, and more.

In California, there are two different types of alimony a spouse may pay or receive: temporary or permanent alimony.

Temporary Alimony

This type of alimony is a regular payment made from the spouse who has a higher income. This is referred to as “temporary alimony” because it’s meant it only provides support to the other spouse during the divorce proceeding.

Temporary alimony generally lasts a short time. In California, temporary alimony ends once the permanent alimony order is issued.

The purpose of temporary alimony is to ensure that a spouse is able to enjoy their current standard of living while going through the divorce process, essentially allowing people of all incomes to seek a divorce against a higher-earning spouse.

For paying spouses, the amount of temporary alimony does not necessarily reflect the amount you’d need to pay for permanent alimony; however, one of the reasons you’ll want an attorney on hand is to make sure you’re not paying more than you need to be when all is said and done.

Permanent Alimony

This type of alimony is also known as long-term alimony. Despite its name, permanent alimony is not necessarily life-long. This alimony is granted to the lesser-earning spouse after the divorce as long as they do not move in with a partner or remarry.

The goal of permanent alimony is to provide the supported spouse with the same standard of living they enjoyed during marriage, essentially ensuring that divorce does not impoverish lesser-earning spouses.

If you and your spouse cannot come up with an agreement on the permanent alimony as part of your divorce negotiations, then you will have to settle on an agreement in court. The judge will then decide the amount and the duration of long-term support.

“The 10-Year Rule” for California Spousal Support

In general, permanent spousal support lasts for half the length of the marriage as long as the marriage lasted for at least 10 years – hence “the 10-year rule.” If a marriage lasted for less than 10 years before being dissolved, then a judge will decide how long alimony should be paid.

How a Court Decides Alimony in CA

The court will consider the following to decide the amount and duration of the alimony:

  • The supported spouses’ earning capacity
  • The paying spouse’s ability to pay alimony
  • Both spouses’ financial needs
  • Both spouses’ obligations and assets
  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and health of the spouses
  • Other related information

Contact the Law Offices of H. William Edgar

The attorneys at the Law Offices of H. William Edgar are dedicated to divorce and family law, including alimony cases. We have offices in RiversideTemeculaAnaheim, and Palm DesertOur team is committed to helping you obtain the best possible results for your case.


Contact us online or call our firm today at (888) 251-9618!

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