Spousal Support: Short-term vs. Long-term Marriages
Spousal support orders are based in part on the duration of the marriage. However, a family court judge can treat a short-term marriage as a long-term marriage when determining the duration of spousal support.
Short-term marriages typically last under 10 years. The duration of spousal support in a short-term marriage is usually half the duration of marriage. So, let’s assume it’s an 8-year marriage. A spousal support order would be 4 years or until the family law court modifies the order.
Spousal support for a long-term marriage doesn’t necessarily have a specific end date. Spousal support may continue until the death of either party, remarriage of the supported spouse or upon further order of the family law court. That “further order of the court” is typically in the divorce settlement and it can include an order in the future.
Some divorce settlements on spousal support include Gavron Warnings. The Gavron warning does not have a set definition, but the California Family Code 4330(b) discusses the advisement given to spouses expecting or asking for spousal support. Family Code 4330(b) states:
When making an order for spousal support, the court may advise the recipient of support that he or she should make reasonable efforts to assist in providing for his or her support needs, taking into account the particular circumstances considered by the court pursuant to Section 4320, unless, in the case of a marriage of long duration as provided for in Section 4336, the court decides this warning is inadvisable.
In other words, it states that the spouse receiving spousal support should look for work. It also means that this warning may not be given (at the discretion of the court) if the spouse was in a long-term marriage.
It’s never a good idea to make assumptions on spousal support. The advice of a local family law attorney is critical in divorce settlements that involve spousal support, especially in a long-term marriage. Self- representation can be a bad idea and deprive a spouse of full spousal support benefits.