How Does The Length Of A Marriage Affect A Divorce?

By Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorneys Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsDuring the financial settlement of a divorce, the court considers many factors. One of the factors that the Court considers is the age of both partners and the second is the length of the relationship. Note, however, that the outcome of a divorce case highly depends on the facts of an individual case and the financial circumstances of both you and your partner.

Why the duration of marriage matters

Two facets of property division can be influenced by your marriage’s length. First, the duration your marriage can decide the precise distribution of property. Second, the longer you are married, the more complex will be the property division and vice-versa.

It is believed that couples who have been wedded for a longer time are likely to have more property and more various property holdings or interests. Property may comprise real estate and related investments, closely held businesses or professional practices, employee stock options and grants. It could also include various retirement as well as investment accounts.

California Family Code section 4320

California Family Code section 4320 states that the shorter the marriage, the shorter the duration of alimony (spousal support) in the State of California.  It also means that you get a shorter amount of time as a spouse to become self-supporting. Similarly, the longer the marriage, the longer the time you have spent outside the workforce, and so the greater will the duration of alimony be. The court will also provide you more time to get back into the workforce.

You might have heard or read that a marriage of 10 years or more means automatic lifetime alimony. Not really. If you and your spouse are married for less than 10 years, it generally means the alimony will likely be for no more than one-half the duration of the marriage. In some cases, if your marriage lasts 10 years or more, the court may determine that your spouse can become self-supporting and cut down the alimony accordingly. In most cases, the closer your marriage is to the ten-year mark, the more likely you are to receive less support depending on the court’s order. If you are married for a longer period of the time over 10 years, it means that normally the court will have continuing jurisdiction over the issue of spousal support and that other than the remarriage of the spouse receiving the support or the death of either party, there is no automatic termination date.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation