When Does Alimony End?

At their core, alimony orders set two basic terms: how much support should be paid and how long those payments should continue. While most people focus on the monthly support number, the length often has a greater impact on your finances in the long term. That’s why it’s so important to understand how long your spousal support order lasts.

The length of an order can vary significantly depending on the circumstances of your marriage and divorce. While there’s no single answer to how long alimony lasts, the type of order involved will give you a better idea of how long to expect payments to continue. 

Lengths of Different Kinds of Alimony in California

There are five basic types of spousal support orders in California, each with different duration rules. They are:

  • Temporary orders: These orders are short-term by nature. They are issued while a divorce is ongoing to support the lower-earning spouse until the split is finalized and end once this occurs.
  • Rehabilitative orders: These temporary orders help a lower-earning spouse become self-sufficient. They often last for half the length of the marriage and may require the recipient to pursue employment or education for the duration. 
  • Reimbursement orders: This is not support but compensation for the recipient’s investment in the household or the other spouse. For example, it may be ordered to compensate the recipient for paying for the other person’s college degree. 
  • Permanent orders: This order has no end date. It typically lasts until one party dies or the recipient gets remarried. 
  • Lump-sum payments: This is a one-time payment of a much larger sum that relieves the paying party from making ongoing monthly transfers. There is no end date because the payment only happens once, usually alongside the divorce’s finalization.

If you’re concerned about how long your order will last, choosing the right kind of order is crucial during your settlement negotiations.

Ending Spousal Support Orders Early

In certain circumstances, it’s possible to end a support order early. This is known as a modification, and it is permitted when either party has experienced a significant change in financial circumstances. 

If you have lost a source of income or your spouse has begun earning more, you can petition for a modification. You must demonstrate that the original order has become an undue financial burden or is no longer necessary. If your petition succeeds, any ongoing payments can potentially be canceled.

Talk to Viola Law Firm P.C. About Your Spousal Support Order

Whether you’re preparing to request spousal support or want to modify an existing order, the skilled family law attorneys at the Viola Law Firm P.C. can help. Reach out to our San Mateo divorce law firm to learn more about how we can help you.

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