If you’re getting a divorce in San Diego, California, you or your spouse may be required to pay alimony. Courts typically order alimony payments to ensure that a spouse can maintain their lifestyle after a divorce.

Alimony may not last forever. Usually, the payments only continue for a certain length of time.

The length of alimony payments may depend on a wide range of factors. Courts review each case individually.

Factors Affecting Alimony in California

There’s no guarantee a California family court will order a spouse to pay alimony to their ex after a divorce. 

Factors influencing the court’s decision include the following:

  • Earning capacity and marketable skills of each spouse
  • Whether the earning capacity of a spouse will be limited due to periods of unemployment because the spouse was performing domestic duties
  • Whether the party seeking alimony payments supported their spouse’s pursuit of their career goals
  • The needs of both spouses as established by the standard of living during their marriage
  • Whether the party seeking alimony can secure gainful employment without interfering with their children’s lives and best interests
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The age and health of both spouses
  • Documented evidence of domestic violence

Accounting for all these factors can be a complex process. A family court’s goal is to establish an alimony arrangement that is best for both parties. However, courts can make mistakes. 

You have a better chance of negotiating an arrangement that satisfies your needs and preferences with the help of a qualified family law attorney.

How California Family Courts Determine How Long Alimony Payments Should Last

The main factor a family court will consider when deciding alimony payments is the length of the marriage. California family courts generally consider marriages of 10 years or more to be marriages “of long duration.” However, the court will account for periods of separation during said marriages.

California alimony generally comes in the following forms:

  • Temporary: Courts may order a spouse to pay this type of alimony to their other spouse during divorce proceedings or separations. Temporary alimony ends when/if permanent alimony is awarded.
  • Permanent: This is the type of alimony one might pay after a divorce has been finalized. The spouse that receives this form of alimony payment will usually be the one with less financial stability or earning potential.

The word “permanent” is confusing because it’s extremely rare for courts to order someone to make alimony payments for the rest of their life.

Permanent alimony payments usually continue for up to half the length of a marriage for marriages lasting fewer than 10 years.

Determining the length of permanent alimony for marriages that lasts 10 or more years is more complicated. Courts must determine how long someone should receive alimony payments before they can support themselves financially.

Ultimately, there’s no way to know precisely how long alimony payments will last in California. A divorce attorney can help you negotiate a fair alimony arrangement that considers your financial needs.

For more information, call our law firm at (619) 866-3756 or reach out to us via email by visiting our contact us page.