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How long do I have to pay alimony?

Filing for divorce means making major life decisions. Many of these incorporate a spouse's finances and whether they are able to maintain their standard of living post-divorce. Because of that, spouses often request financial support during the divorce process. The amount of time that a Californian will have to provide their former spouse with alimony will depend on the type of alimony that their court awards and a number of factors that are relevant to their particular divorce case.

A person may be required to pay temporary alimony to their soon-to-be ex-spouse during their divorce proceedings, or they may have to pay alimony for the amount of time it takes their ex to be able to support him or herself after their divorce is completed. Alimony can be permanent if the conditions of the parties and the divorce warranted it, such as if the divorce occurs late in the parties' lives and the recipient has no means of entering the workforce or otherwise financially taking care of themselves.

Alimony can come in the form of a reimbursement and this may be awarded if one party supported the other as they attained an advanced degree, such as if the recipient spouse paid for the paying spouse to go to medical school to become a doctor. Alimony may also be paid in a one-time lump sum if such an arrangement will suit the parties' needs and the purposes of the court.

A person must look to their own alimony order to determine how long their obligation to their ex will last. Alimony can be completed in a one-time payment or may last for the entirety of a recipient's lifetime. Because alimony can take on different forms and looks vastly different from one divorce to another, it is important to understand how alimony fits into your divorce. If you are seeking alimony or requesting modification, enforcement or cessation, it is vital to understand your rights and options.

Source:, "California Spousal Support or Alimony Law," accessed Jan. 12, 2018

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