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2024 California Alimony Laws Explained

By Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP | Mar 09, 2023

Navigating a divorce under any circumstances is difficult. However, certain factors can make the divorce process even more complicated. Certain parts of divorce are commonly misunderstood, which can cause problems for attorneys and clients alike.

If you are facing a divorce or legal separation, it is important that you understand the negotiations in which you will soon be participating. Alimony, or spousal support, is one such negotiation that can have a significant impact on the rest of your life. It is essential that you have enough information to make an informed decision about your spousal support needs.

Fortunately, the skillful attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP have significant training in this area and are here to help with any alimony issues that you may encounter.

Alimony Defined

Alimony, or spousal support, is a monthly payment that one ex-spouse makes to another ex-spouse. This money is supposed to help the receiving spouse to maintain their lifestyle and remain financially stable following a divorce. Because many married couples rely on one another throughout their marriage, alimony adds a financial cushion if the couple divorces or splits.

Spousal support is most commonly used in divorces where one spouse makes a significant amount of money while the other makes little or no income. This may be because one spouse worked outside of the home while the other cared for the house, children, and family. It can also be because one spouse had a significant amount of training in their field while the other did not. Whatever the reason, alimony is usually appropriate when one spouse brings in the bulk of the household income during a marriage.

Alimony is important in situations where one spouse sacrifices their career for the sake of the family. For example, if one spouse puts their job or career on hold to raise children, they may have a difficult time reentering the workforce due to the large gap in their professional resume. Spousal support gives them financial stability to search for a job or gain professional training to make themselves more appealing in the workforce.

The Duration of Alimony

Although alimony may be determined appropriate in a divorce, it may not last indefinitely. Many alimony agreements have an end date or conditions that must be met for the payments to continue. For couples that have been married for less than ten years, alimony payments generally continue after divorce for half of the length of their marriage. For example, if a couple was married for four years, the alimony payments would likely end two years after the divorce.

If a couple has been married for over ten years, payments may be indefinite or based on certain conditions. In many cases, the payments continue until one of the following occurs:

  • The paying spouse retires
  • The receiving spouse makes a certain level of income
  • The receiving spouse moves in with a significant other or remarries
  • Either spouse dies
  • The paying spouse loses their job or is demoted

Payments may be extended if the receiving spouse is facing medical problems or has certain disabilities.


Q: What Are the Rules for Alimony in California?

A: Though there are standards for who can expect to receive or pay alimony, there are not necessarily any strict rules about the spousal support process. Generally, those who have been married for ten years or more can expect to negotiate alimony if one spouse earned the majority of the money. Those who have been married for less than ten years are not guaranteed alimony payments. The court assesses income, marriage length, and individual needs when deciding on alimony.

Q: What Is the 10 Years Rule in California for Divorce?

A: The 10 Years Rule states that a marriage that lasts ten years or longer is considered “of great length.” This entitles divorcing spouses to additional privileges and considerations that those who have been married for less than ten years may not receive. Couples who have been married for more than ten years will likely need to negotiate spousal support unless both spouses make similar incomes. Alimony for long marriages is often indefinite rather than coming with a definitive end date.

Q: How Many Years Do You Have to Be Married to Pay Alimony in California?

A: There is no minimum or maximum requirement for alimony in California. However, the shorter your marriage is, the less likely you will be asked to pay alimony. Marriages that lasted under ten years may be entitled to alimony payments, but they usually only last for about half of the duration of the marriage. You may need to pay alimony even if you were only married for a year or two; it depends on your unique situation. Contact an attorney.

Q: How Do I Avoid Paying Alimony in California?

A: You may be able to stop alimony payments if you can prove that your ex-spouse has moved in with or is cohabitating with a new partner. You may also be able to end alimony payments if you retire or if you have a drastic change in pay. The most optimal chance of avoiding alimony is to have an attorney who can advocate for you in court. However, if the court mandates alimony, you have no choice but to pay.

Q: How Much Does a Spousal Support Attorney Cost?

A: Be sure to discuss cost with any potential spousal support attorneys because all lawyers charge differently for their services. Some lawyers charge an hourly rate, while others charge a percentage of the settlement that they earn for their clients. Many people negotiate alimony during their divorce and use their family law attorney to represent them throughout the entire process. Just be sure to be clear about costs and budgets with any attorney you use.

Contact Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP

Our team has over 100 years of combined experience in spousal support and family law. When you work with us, you gain the advantage of our wide breadth of knowledge and passion for family law justice.

To begin the process or to ask any questions, contact Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP.

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