alimony divorce lawyer

Alimony consists of monthly payments designed to provide financial support after a divorce for a spouse with an established need. However, alimony is not a lifelong entitlement. In California, judges set the duration of alimony payments based on the divorcing spouses’ individual circumstances, and the determination is influenced by numerous factors. What’s more, alimony can end early upon the occurrence of certain events.

One of the key factors for setting the duration of alimony in California is the length of the marriage. A rule of thumb is that for marriages lasting less than 10 years, alimony is typically granted for half the length of the marriage. This means that if you were married for eight years, you might expect to receive alimony for approximately four years.

For marriages that lasted over 10 years, the court has the discretion to award indefinite alimony. This means that there is no set end date for payments. The court will consider various factors, such as the recipient's financial needs, the payer's ability to pay and the standard of living established during the marriage when determining whether to award indefinite alimony.

Apart from marriage length, several other factors can affect the duration of alimony:

  • Financial need — The court assesses whether the recipient spouse is unable to support themselves adequately and is unlikely to become self-supporting in the foreseeable future.
  • Payer's ability to pay — If the paying spouse can afford to continue supporting the recipient without causing undue hardship, the alimony duration may be extended.
  • Age and health — The age and health of both spouses can play a role. If the recipient spouse is older and/or less likely to become financially self-sufficient due to health issues, alimony may be extended.
  • Custody of children — If there is child custody and support involved, the court may set alimony based in part on ensuring the children's stability and well-being.

Regardless of the duration of alimony ordered by the court, certain events or circumstances such as the following can lead to early termination:

  • Remarriage — If the recipient spouse remarries, alimony payments are usually terminated. This is because the assumption is that their new spouse will provide financial support.
  • Cohabitation — Alimony may be terminated if the recipient spouse begins cohabitating with a new partner, as this could indicate reduced financial need.
  • Change in financial circumstances — If either spouse's financial situation significantly changes, they can request a modification of alimony. This could lead to an increase, decrease, or even termination of payments.

Whether you are the recipient or payer of alimony, it’s in your interests that the award be just and manageable. An experienced divorce attorney can help you understand your rights and responsibilities and work with you in crafting a suitable arrangement.

Favaro, Lavezzo, Gill, Caretti & Heppell, PC in Vallejo and Fairfield-Suisun, California, strives to provide the highest levels of personal attention and professionalism in divorce representation. Please call us today at 707-674-6057 or contact us online.