Dividing marital assets in a divorce and losing the income from a spouse can make it very difficult to continue living in the same manner you did during your marriage. If you are unable to maintain that standard of living, then you may be eligible to receive spousal support.

Spousal support is money courts may order your ex to pay you if you are unable to meet your financial needs without assistance. The amount of time you collect spousal support will depend on a few important factors.

The length of your marriage

In accordance with California spousal support laws, the length of your marriage will directly affect a court’s order for spousal support. Generally speaking, longer marriages will result in longer periods of support. In many cases, support payments will continue for “a reasonable period of time,” which is roughly defined as half as long as the marriage. 

However, spousal support may not have a defined end date if you were married for 10 or more years. In these cases of “long-term marriage,” you could collect support indefinitely.

Your earning capacity

Whether and when you are able to earn enough money to support yourself is a major factor in duration of spousal support. If you have marketable skills and there are jobs available to you, then you may not receive support for a substantial period of time.

On the other hand, if you left the workforce to care for your children several years ago, the courts may order a longer period of support. This is because it can be more difficult and take longer to get back in a position where you can find gainful employment. It may never realistically happen for people who have been out of the workforce for a long time. 

Other factors that affect duration of support

The length of time you receive support might already be established if you signed a prenuptial agreement that addressed spousal support. Further, death of either party will usually terminate support, as will remarriage of the party receiving support.

The duration of a spousal support order is critical to your financial status after divorce, so it can be important to work with an attorney when it comes to assessing what is fair.