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How long does alimony last in California?

If you are going through a divorce, you may have many questions about alimony, regardless of whether you think you may be ordered to pay it or are entitled to receive it. For instance, one of the most common questions people have is how long courts typically order ex-spouses to pay alimony, which is officially known as spousal support in California. The short answer: it all depends on your circumstances.

For instance, if your divorce is still pending, a California court may award temporary, or pendent lite, alimony, but this type of spousal support generally stops once the divorce proceedings conclude.

Alternatively, a court may order post-divorce alimony. While many attorneys may refer to post-divorce spousal support as long-term or permanent alimony, the truth is that these awards are rarely permanent. In fact, if the duration of your marriage was less than 10 years, the general rule is that spousal support will not last longer than one-half of the length of your marriage - if the court orders it at all.

However, if your marriage lasted longer than 10 years, it is possible that the court will not set an end date for alimony payments, but instead leave the option open for either ex-spouse to request a termination or modification of payments. Ultimately, the goal of spousal support in California is for the supported ex-spouse to become "self-supporting within a reasonable period."

So do I have any say?

While alimony is normally a hotly contested issue, sometimes spouses are able to reach an agreement themselves regarding the terms of spousal support payments - often with the help of divorce mediation. Indeed, if you and your soon-to-be ex are able to agree on alimony, a court will generally uphold this agreement so long as it meets all of the legal requirements.

If you have questions about divorce mediation and wonder whether it might be the right option for you, it is best to contact an experienced family law mediation attorney right away. Your future is too important not to.

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