When you get divorced after supporting your spouse over the years, you may be expected to pay alimony as part of your divorce settlement. Alimony is used to help your former spouse maintain the lifestyle they’ve become accustomed to. 

But determining alimony requires taking a look at more than just your finances and the lifestyle you’ve created for your family. It also involves looking at how long you and your spouse were married. This often comes down to comparing your marriage against the 10-year rule. Here’s what your California divorce attorney wants you to know about this rule.

What Is the 10-Year Rule?

The 10-year rule is used by the court to determine the appropriate alimony settlement to award your spouse. If you’ve been married for 10 years or more, the state allows your spouse to receive alimony indefinitely. That means they’re entitled to payments until the court determines that the payments are no longer needed.  

How the Court Views Marriage Duration When Determining Alimony

The court typically classifies marriage duration into two categories under the 10-year rule: short-term marriages and long-term marriages. Depending on where your marriage falls on this scale, you may owe more alimony for a longer time. Here’s what you need to know about each category:

Short-term marriages are ones that last 10 years or less. If you and your spouse fall into this category, the court could determine that your spouse should receive alimony for about half of the marriage’s duration. So, if you were married for four years, your spouse could be entitled to alimony for two years. After those two years have elapsed, the payments can cease. 

Long-term marriages are ones that last for 10 years or more. The court has the right to maintain jurisdiction over alimony payments for these marriages indefinitely. If they determine that your spouse needs ongoing support 20 years after the divorce, they have the right to require that payments continue even after 20 years have passed. That doesn’t mean you’ll be required to make payments or that your payments can’t be lowered during that time. It just means that the courts can oversee the payments for as long as they see fit.

What to Do to Eliminate Alimony Payments

Though the 10-year rule does help determine the length of time that your spouse may be entitled to alimony, the court understands that your circumstances can change. That means you may be able to request a lower alimony amount or ask the court to review the settlement based on a change to your spouse’s lifestyle or situation that makes the alimony less essential to their well-being. Here are a few situations that can reduce or eliminate alimony:

  • Your spouse gets remarried
  • Your spouse passes away
  • Your spouse starts earning enough money to meet the court’s definition of being self-sufficient.
  • Your spouse retires at the age of 65 or later.
  • You’re no longer able to make the payments based on circumstances that you could not foresee or control like job loss, ongoing health issues, and other similar situations.

If you feel that your alimony payments are putting too much strain on your financial situation, let your California divorce attorney know. They’ll be able to argue your case to the court and may be able to convince the court to give you a lower alimony agreement.

Contact Jackman Law Today

Understanding the 10-year rule can help you prepare for your divorce hearing and the potential alimony payments the court may determine to be fair. But that doesn’t mean there’s no wiggle room in the 10-year rule. Your attorney will do what they can to represent your case and Jackman Law is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.