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Dealing with spousal support can be challenging, especially with the varying rules based on the duration of the marriage. In California, the distinction between short-term and long-term marriages significantly impacts the terms and duration of spousal support.

Short-term Marriages (Under 10 Years)

For marriages lasting less than ten years, often referred to as short-term marriages, California law typically orders spousal support for a duration equating to half the length of the marriage. For example, if your marriage lasted six years, you could expect to pay or receive spousal support for approximately three years. This guideline helps ensure that both parties have a fair opportunity to regain financial independence post-divorce.

Long-term Marriages (Over 10 Years)

In contrast, marriages that extend beyond ten years are classified as long-term. In these cases, there usually isn’t a predefined termination date for spousal support. Instead, the support may continue indefinitely, depending on the circumstances of both parties.

However, the court encourages the supported spouse to become self-supporting. This expectation is formalized through a Gavron Order, which mandates the supported party to make reasonable efforts to gain employment and achieve financial independence. Failure to comply with this order can lead to a reduction or termination of spousal support. If the supported spouse starts earning significantly more than when the support order was established, the supporting party can request a modification to reduce the support payments.

Modifying Spousal Support

Both the supporting and the supported spouses have the right to seek modifications to the spousal support order if there’s a significant change in circumstances. For instance:

  • For the Supporting Spouse: If you notice that your former spouse is now capable of earning more or is not making efforts to become self-supporting, you can petition the court for a reduction or termination of support.
  • For the Supported Spouse: Conversely, if your former spouse has returned to earning what they did during the marriage or more, and you believe your support should be increased to reflect this change, you can request an upward modification.

Preparing for Court Requests

When seeking a modification, having comprehensive and accurate financial documentation is crucial. Courts require evidence of changed circumstances to justify any adjustment in spousal support. This includes income statements, employment records, and any other relevant financial information.

Seek Professional Guidance

Understanding your rights and obligations regarding spousal support can be incredibly complicated. It’s beneficial to consult with a family law expert who can provide tailored advice based on your unique situation. JWB Family Law offers a FREE family law consultation to help you navigate these issues. Call us at (619) 234-6123 or visit our website at to schedule your consultation.

For more insights on this topic, you can also watch our informative video here.

At JWB Family Law, we’re here to support you through every step of your spousal support journey, ensuring your rights are protected and your future is secure.

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