Alimony is financial support that one spouse pays to another when you’re separated or divorced.
Q: Is it possible to get spousal support if we weren’t married?
The only way is that you have what’s called the putative spouse, which means that your spouse believed that you were married, but it didn’t turn out to be true. For example, someone may remarry without finalizing their previous divorce. The new wife, believing that she was really married, was an innocent victim.
She would be eligible for spousal support, even though she was never actually married. That is the only exception. Living together does not qualify you for support. It must be a marriage.
Q: Is there common law marriage in California?
The term “Common law marriage” refers to relationships that are deemed to be marriages when certain conditions are met, but was abolished in California in 1930.
Q: Is there a 10-year rule in California as it relates to alimony?
Yes and no. Ten years is generally considered to be the difference between a “long marriage” and a “short marriage.” It’s worth noting that alimony is not going to differ greatly, all other things being equal, between the marriage of nine years and nine months, and the marriage of ten years and one month.
There is nothing absolute about a marriage of ten years in duration. What happens in reality is that you are eligible for alimony if you need it from the other spouse to help support yourself.
“Short” and “long” marriages
If you’re married for five years or less, you’re typically considered to be in a “short marriage.” Ten years or more and you’re considered to be in a “long marriage.” Marriages of between five and ten years are a limbo period.
The significance in a longer term marriage is it effects how long you will receive alimony. If your marriage has lasted more than ten years, you may receive alimony indefinitely or until you no longer have the need for it. For a marriage of fewer than five years, you’re typically only going to get alimony for maybe a couple of years, sometimes three.
The second aspect of the “long marriage” is Social Security. If you’re married to somebody for ten years or more, you’ll be eligible for the other spouse’s social security benefits. The straight 10-year rule for Social Security has nothing to do with alimony for being married.