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How Long Do I Have to Pay Spousal Support?

We have all heard the divorce horror stories where a spouse is forced to fork over large amounts of his or her income to an ex-spouse till hell freezes over. These instances are few and far between. In fact, California law is incredibly fair when it comes to calculating the duration for payment of spousal support. When spousal support is ordered, the court takes many circumstances under consideration. At the San Diego Family Mediation Center, we use legal guidelines, negotiation, and conflict-resolution strategies to put a spousal support agreement in place that is comfortable for both parties. While each case is unique, here are some basic guidelines we begin with to determine the amount and length of time a party would be required to pay spousal support.

Family Code Section 4320 Basics

In California, the court looks to Family Code Section 4320 for a list of considerations in how to calculate spousal support. Just a few of the major considerations include:

  • Duration of the marriage
  • Income of each party
  • Marketable skill of the supported party and the job market for those skills
  • Period of unemployment of supported party that was devoted to the home
  • The needs of each party to sustain the same standard of living
  • Assets of each party
  • Age and health of each party

This is a basic list of considerations for the sake of being direct and brief. If you would like to read all the factors listed in Family Code 4320, you can find it here.

Length of Spousal Support Generally

A general guideline for calculating the length of spousal support is one-half the length of the marriage. For example, if you were married to your spouse for six years, the default starting point of spousal support would be approximately three years. However, if your marriage is considered a long-term marriage (over 10 years) then the length can and may be different. The general guideline of half the length of the marriage can be used still, but will vary depending on the situation. It is important to note that the factors listed in Family Code Section 4320 may extend or shorten the time ordered to pay spousal support. During mediation, you and your spouse will discuss these factors and create a plan that you each agree on.

If you have questions about how spousal support would be calculated in your divorce, contact the experienced mediators at San Diego Family Mediation Center. Call (858) 736-2411 to schedule your initial consultation.