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In family law, does the marriage length impact spousal support?

There are many decisions that must be made in a California divorce. Those going through a divorce may be concerned about a key part of family law: spousal support. It is a good idea to understand how the determination is made regarding how much spouse support will be paid. Another key factor that should be grasped by the spouse who will be paying support and the spouse who will be receiving support is how the length of the marriage will impact how long spousal support will be paid and if it will be permanent.

The amount of time the couple was married will be a foundational factor in deciding on the duration of spousal support. In most cases, the idea behind spousal support is not for the paying spouse to care for the supported spouse and pay for his or her upkeep forever. It is to give the receiving spouse time to find their own means of self-support. This should be done in a "reasonable period of time." Under the law, that phrase generally means half the duration of the marriage.

It is important to note that the law grants a judge the right to decide differently and assess the case based on its individual circumstances. An exception is that if the marriage is classified as long-term -- meaning it was for a decade or more. In such circumstances, the judge might not have a specified date at which the payments will conclude. When calculating the length of the marriage, it will generally start at the date of the marriage until the time the parties separated. The date at which the parties separated will be a key part of the determination of support, but the parties might disagree on the specific date. The judge will then decide on the date. The judge can also consider times when the couple was separated during the marriage if it was a long-term marriage.

The former spouse who is paying support and the former spouse who is set to receive support will have a great deal at stake when the determination is made as to how much support will be paid. Knowing the key factors is an integral part of the process.

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