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  1. #1
    guitarjeff is offline Junior Member
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    How long do I have to pay Alimony if married over 10 years?

    State of CA. I am going through a divorce after 16 years of marriage. My soon to be ex does not work right now but will be going through a vocational evaluator to get her back to work. My Attorney states that since my marriage was more than 10 years I would be responsible for paying Alimony for life, Is this True? I thought that it depended on how long I was married and would have to pay for 1/2 the time so If married for 16 years would have to pay for only 8 years. Can someone verify this for me please? How would this change if she re-marries or gets a job?

    Thanks, Jeff
  2. #2
    mistoffolees is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by guitarjeff View Post
    State of CA. I am going through a divorce after 16 years of marriage. My soon to be ex does not work right now but will be going through a vocational evaluator to get her back to work. My Attorney states that since my marriage was more than 10 years I would be responsible for paying Alimony for life, Is this True? I thought that it depended on how long I was married and would have to pay for 1/2 the time so If married for 16 years would have to pay for only 8 years. Can someone verify this for me please? How would this change if she re-marries or gets a job?

    Thanks, Jeff
    There is no fixed term. See:
    [url=http://www.california-alimony-laws.com/]California Alimony Laws[/url]

    The above says that the court tends to disfavor lifetime support, but it can be granted. Your attorney obviously knows the situation well, so ask him why he thinks it will be lifetime. There may be a specific situation in your case that leads to that conclusion.
  3. #3
    nextwife is offline Senior Member
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    Fight against lifetime alimony. Lifetime is a really long time, and we women are really capable of learning to support ourselves, even in midlife.

    Personally, I find the notion that a woman needs to be supported for life if she hasn't worked in a few years to be insulting and patronizing to women. I changed careers past age 50. My mom went to work after 15 years as a SAHM. I have a sib that went back to school at age 38 and got two masters degrees and now has a high powered job. I have another relative who was a SAHP to four kids for 20 years, then went to Law School and now has a small law practice. I know someone else who lost a significant amount of their speaking ability due to brain damage and chose to go learn real estate appraisal (in their late 40s) so they could have a job and pride in themselves. I know some people who lost EVERYTHING in Europe during WW2 and came to the US with only the shirt on their backs, some ingenuity and made a life for themselves.

    People remake themselves all the time.

    Besides, what if something happened to YOU? She depending on you, long term, is just a really BAD plan. YOU could yourself become unemployed, injured, disabled, and if she sat around depending on you instead of now learning her own career, she'd be out of luck. Heck, your industry could go to pot, and your income nosedive. None of us know the future. If that happened, you'd be expected to learn a new career. Why shouldn't she? It's not like childrearing kills brain cells and makes you forever incapable of learning..

    It's outrageous to "write off" anyone who is able bodied and reasonably capable, and presume they can't learn a sustainable career later in life. These days, in this economy MANY, many people have HAD to learn new careers in midlife. Women don't become blithering idiots who can't learn anything just because they took a bit of a break from working to be their child's caregiver full time.
    Last edited by nextwife; 07-31-2010 at 08:12 AM.
  4. #4
    mistoffolees is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by nextwife View Post
    Fight against lifetime alimony. Lifetime is a really long time, and we women are really capable of learning to support ourselves, even in midlife.

    Personally, I find the notion that a woman needs to be supported for life if she hasn't worked in a few years to be insulting and patronizing to women. I changed careers past age 50. My mom went to work after 15 years as a SAHM. I have a sib that went back to school at age 38 and got two masters degrees and now has a high powered job. I have another relative who was a SAHP to four kids for 20 years, then went to Law School and now has a small law practice. I know someone else who lost a significant amount of their speaking ability due to brain damage and chose to go learn real estate appraisal (in their late 40s) so they could have a job and pride in themselves. I know some people who lost EVERYTHING in Europe during WW2 and came to the US with only the shirt on their backs, some ingenuity and made a life for themselves.

    People remake themselves all the time.

    Besides, what if something happened to YOU? She depending on you, long term, is just a really BAD plan. YOU could yourself become unemployed, injured, disabled, and if she sat around depending on you instead of now learning her own career, she'd be out of luck. Heck, your industry could go to pot, and your income nosedive. None of us know the future. If that happened, you'd be expected to learn a new career. Why shouldn't she? It's not like childrearing kills brain cells and makes you forever incapable of learning..

    It's outrageous to "write off" anyone who is able bodied and reasonably capable, and presume they can't learn a sustainable career later in life. These days, in this economy MANY, many people have HAD to learn new careers in midlife. Women don't become blithering idiots who can't learn anything just because they took a bit of a break from working to be their child's caregiver full time.
    I agree in general, but there's a big warning flag here. The attorney said that OP was likely to be paying for the rest of his life. Since the attorney knows more about the specifics than we do, it's impossible to say what the reason is, but it's also difficult to second guess the attorney.

    There are a number of factors that might lead to lifetime alimony - the parties could be much older than your examples. OP might have a ton of money and a successful business that stbx helped him build. STBX might be severely disabled but not eligible for SSDI. Or whatever.

    I agree that it's worth fighting, but the first step is to sit down and talk with the attorney about WHY he needs to pay lifetime alimony.
  5. #5
    nextwife is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by mistoffolees View Post
    I agree in general, but there's a big warning flag here. The attorney said that OP was likely to be paying for the rest of his life. Since the attorney knows more about the specifics than we do, it's impossible to say what the reason is, but it's also difficult to second guess the attorney.

    There are a number of factors that might lead to lifetime alimony - the parties could be much older than your examples. OP might have a ton of money and a successful business that stbx helped him build. STBX might be severely disabled but not eligible for SSDI. Or whatever.

    I agree that it's worth fighting, but the first step is to sit down and talk with the attorney about WHY he needs to pay lifetime alimony.
    I suspect that if the wife were disabled, or had helped build his business or put him through med school, it would have been mentioned.

    Working in default real estate, I've seen SOOOO many people who got really bad financial advice from their attorneys, that I don't presume they will always give the best advice. If they did, we wouldn't see day after day of posts about people who "agreed" that the ex would be responsible for the house payment, and now their credit is locked up AND ruined and they are surprised to find they are indeed responsible for the loan.

    Example: I know someone who owned a lot of scattered site single family homes when the wife wanted out. The attorney didn't have a clue that it was unwise to liquidate, especially all at once because
    A. capital gains,
    B. had she taken half the properties (all self sustaining, long term tenants who did their own grass cutting and snow removal) she would have had a long term cash flow
    C. If you put them all on the market at the same time, the tenants will all move and you'll end up supporting the debt with little to no income
    D. It's stupid to liquidate in a down market if you have cash flow. She was offered her choice of properties, but insisted on cashing everything out.
    Now she blew through most of the money AND didn't plan for her capital gains taxes. Her attorney gave her bad advice. Their approach was a fiscal disaster, to her anyway. He planned appropriately, but still sold at a bad time, when they could have just divied up the investments..

    Attorneys sometimes just take the path of least resistance as does everybody.

    If I were facing a major medical decision, I'd want a second professional opinion. I'd want no less if dealing with almost a decade of my life and the prospect of possible lifetime alimony..
    Last edited by nextwife; 07-31-2010 at 10:06 AM.
  6. #6
    mistoffolees is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by nextwife View Post
    If I were facing a major medical decision, I'd want a second professional opinion. I'd want no less if dealing with almost a decade of my life and the prospect of possible lifetime alimony..
    That is a good suggestion. For a couple hundred bucks, he can get a second opinion.
  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by guitarjeff View Post
    State of CA. I am going through a divorce after 16 years of marriage. My soon to be ex does not work right now but will be going through a vocational evaluator to get her back to work. My Attorney states that since my marriage was more than 10 years I would be responsible for paying Alimony for life, Is this True? I thought that it depended on how long I was married and would have to pay for 1/2 the time so If married for 16 years would have to pay for only 8 years. Can someone verify this for me please? How would this change if she re-marries or gets a job?

    Thanks, Jeff
    I also agree that a second opinion is a good idea.

    I will add that the 1/2 the length of the marriage 'rule' is merely a rule of thumb and is generally used in the context of presumptively short term marriages (less than 10 years.)

    BTW, in long term marriages, the judgments almost always order spousal support payable, for what seems like a lifetime (death, remarriage or further order of the court), however, in actuality, unless the order/judgment says the support is non-modifiable and non-terminable, it always can be modified based on a showing of 'changed circumstances.' You may wish to address this issue with your counsel.
  8. #8
    Bali Hai is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by EnforceSupport View Post
    I also agree that a second opinion is a good idea.

    I will add that the 1/2 the length of the marriage 'rule' is merely a rule of thumb and is generally used in the context of presumptively short term marriages (less than 10 years.)

    BTW, in long term marriages, the judgments almost always order spousal support payable, for what seems like a lifetime (death, remarriage or further order of the court), however, in actuality, unless the order/judgment says the support is non-modifiable and non-terminable, it always can be modified based on a showing of 'changed circumstances.' You may wish to address this issue with your counsel.
    You don't actually believe that the ex-wife's circumstances will change so that she loses that alimony check every month do you?

    If OP were to lose his job, tough break, get another one (or two, etc.) and obey the court order.

    The "material change of circumstances" is downright laughable, people collecting money they don't have to work for won't do anything to jeopardize that free money from rolling in every month.
  9. #9
    LdiJ is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bali Hai View Post
    You don't actually believe that the ex-wife's circumstances will change so that she loses that alimony check every month do you?

    If OP were to lose his job, tough break, get another one (or two, etc.) and obey the court order.

    The "material change of circumstances" is downright laughable, people collecting money they don't have to work for won't do anything to jeopardize that free money from rolling in every month.
    A lot of alimony orders aren't high enough for anyone to have that kind of motivation.
  10. #10
    Bali Hai is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by LdiJ View Post
    A lot of alimony orders aren't high enough for anyone to have that kind of motivation.
    Which makes one seriously wonder why alimony would be ordered at all in those cases.
  11. #11
    LdiJ is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bali Hai View Post
    Which makes one seriously wonder why alimony would be ordered at all in those cases.
    To give the party some temporary assistance in paying the bills.
  12. #12
    mistoffolees is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bali Hai View Post
    You don't actually believe that the ex-wife's circumstances will change so that she loses that alimony check every month do you?

    If OP were to lose his job, tough break, get another one (or two, etc.) and obey the court order.

    The "material change of circumstances" is downright laughable, people collecting money they don't have to work for won't do anything to jeopardize that free money from rolling in every month.
    That's right - because an alimony award is recognition that they've ALREADY earned some level of support. That is, alimony is a payment for sacrifices or contributions made previously. So there's no need to do anything for it to continue (except in most cases, to stay alive and unmarried).

    If you loan me $10,000 and I agree to pay you $100 per month until it's paid off, do you need to continue to do anything to 'earn' that $100 per month? Obviously not. Alimony is similar, at least in concept.
  13. #13
    Bali Hai is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by mistoffolees View Post
    That's right - because an alimony award is recognition that they've ALREADY earned some level of support. That is, alimony is a payment for sacrifices or contributions made previously. So there's no need to do anything for it to continue (except in most cases, to stay alive and unmarried).

    If you loan me $10,000 and I agree to pay you $100 per month until it's paid off, do you need to continue to do anything to 'earn' that $100 per month? Obviously not. Alimony is similar, at least in concept.
    The analogy of loaning money to someone is a big stretch from the court giving your money to someone else.

    We all make sacrifices in partnerships, i.e. employer/employee, does that mean if my employment (at will in NYS) were terminated by my employer, I've "earned" some level of future support from them? Because my employer employed me for a long duration and, and subsequently eliminated my job, they financially are responsible to support me in the future? Of course not, that would be rediculous wouldn't it?

    You can't find anything in the real world even close to being comparable with alimony. The whole alimony concept is outdated and needs an overhaul. Women wanted equal rights and now they have them. They have the right to work for a living just like a man. In fact if a man and woman apply for the same job, if both their qualifications are equal, the job goes to the woman. So now the man who owes alimony can't pay it and goes to jail.

    I'm thinking seriously of having a sex change just to survive!!
  14. #14
    LdiJ is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bali Hai View Post
    The analogy of loaning money to someone is a big stretch from the court giving your money to someone else.

    We all make sacrifices in partnerships, i.e. employer/employee, does that mean if my employment (at will in NYS) were terminated by my employer, I've "earned" some level of future support from them? Because my employer employed me for a long duration and, and subsequently eliminated my job, they financially are responsible to support me in the future? Of course not, that would be rediculous wouldn't it?

    You can't find anything in the real world even close to being comparable with alimony. The whole alimony concept is outdated and needs an overhaul. Women wanted equal rights and now they have them. They have the right to work for a living just like a man. In fact if a man and woman apply for the same job, if both their qualifications are equal, the job goes to the woman. So now the man who owes alimony can't pay it and goes to jail.

    I'm thinking seriously of having a sex change just to survive!!
    How about a better analogy. Your employer lays you off, and you get to collect unemployment on your employer's experience account for a certain amount of time. Your employer is still supporting you with money taken from the employer.
  15. #15
    Bali Hai is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by LdiJ View Post
    How about a better analogy. Your employer lays you off, and you get to collect unemployment on your employer's experience account for a certain amount of time. Your employer is still supporting you with money taken from the employer.
    That's a much better analogy. I think you meant the employers insurance account.

    I think there just might be a market out there for alimony insurance.

    When the benefits run out, you get back to work or starve.

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