divorcing couple

One common misconception in California involves the “10-year marriage law.” Some people believe that if their marriage lasts for over a decade, they can be entitled to a better division of assets or higher spousal support. Unfortunately, this is not always true in every divorce case. Let’s look at how the duration of a marriage can be a factor in the divorce process and why this “law” is nothing but a myth. 

California’s No-Fault Divorce System

Like many states, California follows the no-fault principles for divorce. With that, either spouse can file for a divorce without assigning fault to the other.

Often, the duration of the marriage will be a factor when the courts need to decide on spousal support or alimony. This financial assistance is assigned to one spouse during or after the legal process. Yes, the length of the marriage is a factor, but it will not automatically give financial support to a spouse after 10 years. 

For short-term marriages (less than 10 years), spousal support is granted for about half the length of the marriage. For example, if you were married for eight years, only four are considered in the decision. With any spousal support, the goal is to assist the lower-earning person until they can become financially self-reliant. 

For those with long-term marriages, the courts will use more discretion when awarding financial support. Sometimes, the court can issue an indefinite or open-ended spousal support order. 

However, these decisions are not made primarily based on the length of the marriage. The court will look at a few factors of each spouse, such as:

  • Financial situation
  • Earning capacity
  • Standard of living established during the marriage
  • Needs of the supported spouse

The length of the marriage is just one factor that California courts use to reach a decision.

How Are Property Division and Child Support Affected?

Some believe a 10-year marriage will give them a more favorable division of assets. In California, marital property is divided based on community property principles. All assets and debts acquired during the marriage are divided equally between the spouses.

During this process, the court may consider each spouse’s contributions and financial circumstances. Separate property, like an inheritance, is the sole property of the owning spouse. The length of the marriage plays a limited role in these decisions. 

Child custody is another contentious issue for many divorcing partners. The child’s best interests play a major factor in custody arrangements. Along with that, the court assesses different elements before making a decision. Some of these factors include: 

  • The parent’s ability to provide a stable and nurturing environment
  • The child’s preferences and age
  • The relationship between the child and each parent 

While the court may consider the stability provided by a long-term marriage as a factor, that does not give one parent an advantage over the other.

Learn More About How Your Marriage Length Can Affect the Divorce Proceedings

There is a belief in California that the “10-year marriage law” can affect divorce proceedings. However, state law is based on the principles of no-fault divorce, equitable property division, and the child’s best interests. While the length of the marriage is a factor in spousal support, it is not the only thing that determines the outcome of divorce cases. 

At Roberts & Zatlin Law Office, we are here to answer all your divorce-related questions and even debunk some of these myths. Our office in Temecula offers legal services to Menifee, Hemet, Sun City, Lake Elsinore, Winchester, Wildomar, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange County, Vista, San Diego, Inland Valley, and all other parts of the state. To schedule a consultation today and receive a free initial assessment of your case, please call (951) 381-8147 today.

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