Sometimes, after decades of marriage, a couple in California will decide for one reason or another that their union isn't working, and they are best off divorcing. However, this could lead some couples to experience a significant amount of financial disparity, especially if one spouse had stayed out of the workforce to care for the family. In situations like this, one spouse may want to seek permanent or long-term spousal support.
Oftentimes spousal support -- also known as alimony -- will only last for a defined period of time, generally as long as it will take for the receiving party to obtain the education and employment needed to become financially self-sufficient. However, when a couple has been married for a long time, becoming self-sufficient may be very difficult for one of the parties. When this happens, the spouse who is to receive spousal support can move the court to make such an order permanent. In general, a long-term marriage is one that has lasted 10 years or more.
When deciding whether to award permanent spousal support, the court will consider several factors. The court may consider: how long the couple was married; the standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage; what each party can contribute financially to keep up this standard of living; whether entering the workforce would make caring for any minor children too difficult; each party's age and health; what assets and liabilities each spouse has; whether one spouse contributed to the education or career of the other spouse; whether domestic violence is an issue; whether one spouse's career was affected due to unemployment or staying at home to care for the family; and the tax implications of awarding permanent spousal support.
Ultimately, while California law states that in general, spousal support should last around one-half of the length of time the marriage lasted, long-term marriages could necessitate an open-ended spousal support order. However, each spousal support case is unique, and this post cannot promise any specific outcome in our readers' requests for spousal support. Instead, readers seeking spousal support will want to consult with a professional, so they can make informed decisions in their case.