Divorce After a Lengthy Marriage in California

Jun 5

Going through a divorce is never easy, but when a marriage has lasted for a long time, the process can be particularly challenging. In California, divorce laws are designed to address the unique circumstances that arise when a marriage has lasted for many years. You need to be aware of how these laws impact your life. Island View Law reviews some essential things to know about divorce after a lengthy marriage in California.

California’s “10-Year Rule”

In California, Family Code 4336 states that without a written agreement or court order terminating spousal support, a court will have ongoing jurisdiction over a divorce or separation involving a long-duration marriage. The law assumes that a marriage lasting ten years or more is considered a long-duration marriage. Still, the court has the authority to consider the periods of separation in making this determination. It’s important to note that the court is not prevented from determining that a marriage of less than ten years is also a long-duration marriage.

How will this affect a divorce in California after a lengthy marriage lasting ten or more years? Here are the primary ways your divorce will feel this rule’s impact.

Division of Property

In California, marital property is typically divided equally between the spouses. Any assets acquired during the marriage, such as real estate, investments, and retirement accounts, are subject to division. However, the court will also consider factors such as the earning capacity of each spouse, the standard of living established during the marriage, and the needs of any children when determining the equitable distribution of assets.

Spousal Support

Spousal support, also known as alimony, is another critical consideration in a divorce after a lengthy marriage. In California, the court may award spousal support to ensure that both spouses can maintain a standard of living similar to that enjoyed during the marriage. The duration and amount of spousal support will depend on factors such as the length of the marriage, each spouse's earning capacity, and the supported spouse's needs.

Child Custody and Support

If the divorcing couple has children, child custody and support will be significant issues to address. In California, the court's primary concern is the children's best interests. The court will consider factors such as the children's relationships with each parent, their adjustment to their home, school, and community, and any history of abuse or neglect. Child support is calculated based on state guidelines that consider each parent's income and the time the child spends with each parent.

Social Security

If a marriage lasts more than ten years and ends in divorce, an individual who reaches retirement age may be eligible to receive a portion of their ex-spouse's Social Security benefits, provided they have not remarried. This is based on the ex-spouse's earnings.

Military Benefits

In the event of a military divorce, if a couple was married for more than ten years, the ex-spouse of a military member on active duty during their marriage is eligible for a portion of the military member's retirement benefits. This eligibility also extends to shorter marriages, although the benefits may not be received through direct payment.

Legal Assistance for Divorce After a Lengthy California Marriage

Given the complexity of divorce, especially after a lengthy marriage, it's essential to seek legal assistance from an experienced CA Family Law or Divorce Attorney. Island View Law has knowledgeable attorneys who can guide the legal process, advocate for your rights, and help negotiate a fair settlement. We can also help you understand your rights and obligations under California law and ensure that your interests are protected throughout the divorce proceedings.

Contact Island View Law at (805)576-7693 or complete the online form to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our divorce attorneys in Carpinteria, California.


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