How Long Can I Receive Alimony?


If you're considering a Pasadena divorce, you may be wondering if there is a minimum length of time you must be married in order to receive alimony. While the length of your marriage doesn't determine if you can receive alimony, it is often a factor in how long the payments are made.

Alimony, sometimes called spousal support or maintenance, is a payment made by one spouse to the other in the event of a divorce. Alimony is for the financial support of the adult receiving the payments. Child support is for the needs of the children from the marriage and is determined separately.

In California, a marriage lasting 15 years or more is considered of long duration and thus eligible for extended alimony benefits. If a couple is married for less than 10 years, generally alimony eligibility is determined to be half the length of the marriage. For example, a couple married for six years would have three years of alimony eligibility. This is just a starting point for alimony awards, however. Many other factors are also considered.

Some of the factors that determine alimony awards are the health, age, and future earning prospects of the divorcing couple. For example, a 50 year old woman who has not held a job outside the home in 25 years would be much more likely to receive alimony than a 25 year old with an MBA. Contrary to popular belief, gender is not a factor in determining alimony awards. Alimony is concerned with earning potential alone.

There are four types of alimony awards:

  • Temporary alimony is alimony awarded pending the divorce proceeding;
  • Rehabilitative alimony is alimony given to allow the lesser earning spouse time to become self sufficient;
  • Permanent alimony is paid until the death of one of the spouses or the remarriage of the recipient; and
  • Reimbursement alimony is payment for expenses the spouse incurred during the marriage - such as paying for a graduate degree for the higher earning spouse.

A Pasadena matrimonial lawyer can provide advice regarding which type of alimony is most appropriate for your case.