Terminating Spousal Support

Whether you are paying or receiving spousal support, you will be interested in understanding how and when the spousal support payments will end. In California, an order for spousal support is made as a part of the following types of cases: 1) annulment, 2) legal separation, or 3) divorce.

A spouse can also ask the court to issue a “temporary support order” while their case is pending with the court. Once the case is finalized, the court would order long-term or permanent spousal support.

How long does spousal support last?

As a general rule of thumb, permanent or long-term spousal support is paid for about one-half the length of the marriage. So, if a marriage lasted six years, spousal support will likely be ordered for three years.

When a marriage is considered to be “long-term,” one that lasted 10 years or longer, the judge has the option of not setting an end date for the spousal support payments.

Once a judge orders a spouse to pay spousal support, it becomes a court order and the paying spouse must follow it until one of the following occurs:

  • The court ends the spousal support,
  • The court changes the spousal support,
  • The order for spousal support reaches its end date,
  • One of the spouses passes away, or
  • The spouse receiving the support remarries or enters into a new domestic partnership (for partner support).

Occasionally, a spouse is receiving spousal support, but the paying spouse feels that they shouldn’t be paying it anymore. This situation will arise when the paying spouse believes that their ex is not making a good effort to become self-supporting, or when they have become self-supporting, and they no longer need the support.

In the situations above, a paying spouse may go back to court and ask the court to terminate or modify the support payments based on their ex’s new circumstances.

Do you need help with a spousal support matter? If so, contact Claery & Hammond, LLPto schedule a free case evaluation!