Long Term Marriage (10 + years)

A long-term marriage is often defined as a marriage that lasted 10 years or more before separation. California Family Code 4336 specifically states that a marriage that is 10 years or longer is presumed to be a long-term marriage and the court’s jurisdiction over the issue of spousal support continues until terminated. What this simply means is that, unless the parties agree in writing to the contrary, it is possible that alimony in a long-term marriage could last indefinitely until the remarriage of the person receiving spousal support or the death of either party.

Contrary to what many people believe however, the marriage does not need to hit the 10 year mark to be a long-term marriage. California courts have determined that in certain circumstances a marriage of less than 10 years can also be a long-term marriage so long as it is close to the 10 year mark and there are additional circumstances that justify treating the marriage as a long-term marriage. These additional circumstances are case specific and depend on such things as the marital lifestyle, whether or not the person seeking spousal support has a serious disability or other condition and whether or not the party seeking spousal support has a reasonable chance of maintaining the marital lifestyle without continual alimony from his or her spouse.

Disputes over whether or not a marriage is long-term are very common. These disputes often arise when there is a disagreement about the date of separation. The date of separation is a factual question that can be relatively complicated but can be best summarized as follows: did one spouse or the other form the belief that the marriage was over and did that spouse engage in conduct consistent with that belief. The factors the court takes into consideration include but are not necessarily limited to whether or not the spouses lived together, when they stopped living together, whether they engaged in a conjugal relationship, how they managed their finances together or apart (for example, did they continue to file joint returns), and whether or not they held themselves out as husband and wife, or a separated couple, to others. Subjective belief and state of mind coupled with objective conduct are the key factors that the court looks at when determining date of separation in the event of a dispute over whether or not a marriage is a long-term or not.

If your marriage is at or close to the 10 year mark, do not assume that it is a short-term or a long-term marriage. Put the knowledge and experience of Farzad Family Law to work for you so that we can investigate all of the facts and advise you of your options.

I look forward to hearing from you. Call me. Email me. Let’s talk. Let’s find solutions together.

Warmest Regards,

B. Robert Farzad
Orange County Divorce & Family Law Attorneys
1851 E. 1st Street, Suite 1150
Santa Ana, CA 92705
Telephone: (714) 937-1193
Facsimile: (714) 937-1192

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