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Does the Duration of a Marriage Matter at All in Divorce?

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Divorce can happen at any point in a marriage for a myriad of reasons. A couple married only a few years prior may realize they’ve grown apart and have different goals and aspirations for life. A couple married for decades can also grow apart and find it difficult to manage finances or move through life’s major moments together.

Depending upon whether you feel you and your spouse have been together for a long or short while before discussing divorce, one of the questions you may have is whether or not the duration of your marriage plays a role in divorce. The simple answer to this is that it can, although perhaps in some ways that may surprise you.

Marriages of Long Duration & California’s ’10-Year Rule’

You might have heard it said that California has a 10-year rule for divorce – but what does this mean? What people often refer to as a “rule” is mostly the work of Family Code Section 4336(a), which states that a marriage of “long duration” is always under the court’s jurisdiction, even after the divorce is finalized.

This means that if a court is finalizing the divorce of a couple who’s been together for a long time, the court retains the power to modify any of its original orders under the right circumstances. The reason why so many people talk about a “10-year rule” is because the courts recognize a marriage lasting 10 or more years to be a marriage of long duration.

In these divorces, judges can perpetually revisit spousal supportchild custodychild support, and other important issues that were decided when the divorce was finalized.

What If My Marriage Didn’t Last 10 Years?

If your marriage lasted for fewer than 10 years, the court would not retain an indefinite jurisdiction over your divorce settlement. If, for example, you were married for 7 years, the court could have jurisdiction over your divorce settlement for as many years or fewer. This means that the spousal support order for a shorter marriage could also last for as long.

If you were married for fewer than 10 years but almost met the threshold (say, 9 years and 7 months), the court may be willing to treat your divorce as a long-duration divorce. That would, of course, be up to the judge’s discretion.

Do You Need Help with Divorce?

If you have another question related to divorce or wish to hire legal counsel to offer you advice and services during your divorce, reach out to Claery & Hammond, LLP for assistance.

Get in touch with us today by contacting our firm online – when you do, be sure to request a consultation to meet with one of our attorneys!

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