How many years do you have to be married to get alimony in California?

If you are happily married, the last thing you want to consider is divorce. Unfortunately, marriages end all too frequently. When divorce does occur, there is often a lot of uncertainty surrounding it. You may wonder how much your quality of life will shift or how you will navigate your way around this challenge. Alimony is one way to preserve your quality of life after a divorce. It can provide you with financial security as you move forward with this new chapter of your life.

How Is Alimony Defined?

Alimony is money that is given from one ex-spouse to another after they have finalized their divorce. This money is often given monthly and can be either temporary or permanent. Alimony is paid by a higher-earning spouse to the spouse that either earns less or is unemployed.

What Is Temporary Alimony?

Temporary alimony is typically paid monthly after the divorce has been finalized. However, the payments do not continue forever. In many cases, temporary alimony is determined based on how long the couple has been married, divided in half. Therefore, if a couple is married for four years, the spouse with the lower income may receive alimony for two years. This time will thus act as a window for them to figure out a new financial plan and maintain the same quality of life that they had while married.

What Is Permanent Alimony?

The need for permanent alimony must be proven in court. Factors that determine the need for permanent alimony may include:

  • A physical or mental disability: When determining the need for alimony, the ability to work is critical. Any physical or mental disability that prevents one spouse from working could qualify that spouse for permanent alimony.
  • Age and education: A person’s age and/or ability to work influences whether they will receive permanent alimony. Older people and those with less education will have a harder time finding work, especially if they have never worked before. Therefore, they may be granted alimony to support their old lifestyle.
  • Marriage length: Marriages that last more than ten years are more likely to qualify for permanent alimony. The court uses the length of the marriage to determine how much the quality of life for the lesser income-earning spouse will suffer after the couple is apart. However, even couples that have been married for 30 years do not always qualify for receiving alimony if they are financially capable and able to work without their spouse’s support.

Court Intervention

Although it is to the couple’s advantage if they can form an alimony agreement outside of court, in some cases, compromise is just not possible. In cases where couples cannot agree, the court decides the amount of alimony that will be awarded to the lesser income-earning spouse through a computer-based program that calculates the income of both spouses based on need. Typically, alimony will only be ordered by the court if one spouse’s quality of life will drastically change after the divorce. This may apply in cases where one spouse was supporting the other.


Q. How Do You Qualify for Alimony in California?

A. Alimony is different for each couple. The length of the marriage is one of the biggest qualifying factors for receiving alimony. Alimony is also given based on how much the lifestyle of the lesser income-earning spouse will be altered after the divorce. Spouses that have been completely supported by their spouse for long periods of time may be more eligible to receive alimony. This is due to the bigger lifestyle adjustments that they may have to endure when compared to spouses who have been married for a short time.

Q. What Is a Wife Entitled to After 10 Years of Marriage in California?

A. No matter the length of a marriage, after the divorce is completed, the spouse with the lower income is entitled to alimony. Typically, if the marriage is under 10 years, the alimony awarded will only be temporary to keep the less income-earning spouse afloat as they adjust to this new change in their life. Marriages lasting longer than 10 years may be entitled to permanent alimony, but the need for alimony will have to be proven in court.

Q. Do Husbands Have to Pay Alimony in California?

A. California does not automatically make a husband pay alimony. When a marriage ends, the spouse who earns the lower income is eligible to receive alimony. The length of the marriage plays a significant factor in whether alimony is awarded as well as whether the spouse with the lesser income needs money to support their lifestyle after the divorce. If the marriage is short, and the life of the lower income spouse has not been drastically altered, receiving alimony would be unlikely.

Q. How Much Alimony Can a Wife Get in California?

A. There is no set determinant of how much money a wife will receive in alimony, if any. In cases where the wife has a higher income than her spouse, she may end up paying her spouse alimony. The amount of alimony awarded is often determined by the length of the marriage and the financial needs of the lower-income spouse. The lower income-earning spouse must prove a need for income in court to be awarded alimony.

An Experienced Family Law Firm You Can Trust

At the Law Offices of Patricia Rigdon, we understand that there is no specific mold that each marriage and each divorce falls under. Every couple is unique and should be treated as such. Our experienced family attorneys listen to our clients and work personally with couples outside of the courtroom. We want to ensure that your life carries on as smoothly as possible after your divorce and that you or your spouse have as much equality in your separation as possible so that you can move away from each other and towards a new beginning. Starting over may be hard, but it is possible. Contact us today to get the support you need throughout your divorce.