If you have been married for almost 10 years, you may have heard that once
a marriage lasts 10 years, it is considered a long-term marriage and is
therefore subject to the “Ten Year Rule" in the event of a
In reality, there is no such thing as a “Ten Year Rule,” that
says that once you have been married for 10 years, the court will order that
spousal support be paid indefinitely.
Under California’s Family Code Section 4336(a), it says that in the
case of a marriage of “long duration,” the court shall retain
jurisdiction indefinitely after the divorce has been finalized, unless
the couple agrees otherwise.
This means that the court can continue making decisions about the former
couple’s matters, and it can revisit the original orders and modify
them if necessary.
If a marriage lasted 10 or more years, it’s automatically considered
a marriage of “long duration,” but on occasion, a shorter
marriage may be considered a long marriage.
Let’s say that John and Angela were married for five years. The court
ordered John to pay Angela $600 a month for two and a half years –
half the length of their marriage. The court’s order ends after
the two and a half year mark.
If Angela were to become unemployed during the two and half years, the
court could order John to increase his support. But once the two and a
half years passes, the court no longer has the power to order John to
pay spousal support.
On the other hand, if John and Angela were married for 10 years, their
marriage would be considered “long-term,” and the court can
award spousal support indefinitely.
So, even though the court ordered John to pay support for five years (half
the length of the marriage), if Angela were to lose her job right before
the support were to end, the court could order John to continue paying
support, past the five year mark.
In California divorces, it’s common for courts to award support for
half the length of the marriage. However, in a long-term marriage the
court may award support for a longer length of time depending upon a variety
In conclusion, there is no such thing as a “Ten Year Rule”
that says spousal support is awarded indefinitely in a marriage that lasted
10 or more years, but it does mean that the court usually has the ability
to revisit the issue of spousal support at a later date.
If you have further questions about spousal support, don’t hesitate to
contact Claery & Green, LLP for a free case evaluation.