How Long Do You Have to Pay Alimony After Your Divorce?

One of the most commonly asked questions after a divorce judgement is: how long do you have to pay alimony? Alimony can be very expensive, and knowing when you can stop paying may give you something to look forward to.

At the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks, we’ll be happy to answer your alimony questions and help make life easier for you.

Understanding Alimony Basics

Alimony is money paid by the more-affluent spouse to the less-affluent spouse on a monthly basis after a divorce. The intent is to help the payee with their living expenses. Sometimes it’s permanent. Sometimes it lasts only a few months or years, or until the payee can start making a decent living. Not all states require alimony, but California does, especially after a contested divorce.

How Much Alimony Will I Have to Pay?

That depends on how much you both earn, where you live, and the judge’s final decision. It can be hundreds or thousands of dollars per month.

When Do I Have to Start Paying, and How Long Do You Have to Pay Alimony on Average?

You start paying alimony once your divorce is final and you receive the official judgment. The alimony order will specify how long you have to pay alimony. Usually, you have to pay until:

  • One of you dies;
  • Your spouse remarries;
  • The court makes a further ruling; or
  • A specific end date arrives.

For short-term marriages (less than 10 years), the alimony usually sets an end date. Long-term marriages result in long-term alimony. The judge has some leeway, especially for “gray area” marriages that last more than nine but less than 10 years. Similarly, the judge can decide to terminate alimony for a long-term marriage after a specific period.

If There’s an End Date, When Will It Most Likely Be?

Most judges set the alimony end date for a short-term marriage at half the length of the marriage. If you were married for six years, you can expect the alimony to last three years. Caution: don’t just assume this is always true and stop paying after the halfway mark, just in case the judge decided to set the date later. Find the termination date on your alimony order and remember it.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Review My Alimony Order?

We recommend it. The judge can interpret and order your alimony terms in numerous ways, and they won’t necessarily be in your best interests. We’ll be able to tell you how the order affects you, and answer that very important question of, “How long do you have to pay alimony?”

What If Something Happens and I Can’t Afford to Pay My Alimony Anymore?

The court recognizes that circumstances can change your ability or need to pay. You can ask for a modification or termination of alimony if, for example:

  • You:
    • retire at the normal retirement age.
    • suffer a significant decrease in income.
    • suffer an unforeseen increase in expenses.
  • Your:
    • spouse’s income increases significantly.
    • spouse is cohabitating with someone.
    • spouse’s living expenses decrease.
    • spouse receives income or assets that decreases or relieves their need for alimony.

We can help you determine whether other circumstances might also apply.

Contact an Alimony Lawyer Today

If you’ve got an alimony order and aren’t sure how long you have to pay, or if you need a modification or termination, call the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks at (559) 222-4891 for a free consultation. Alimony doesn’t necessarily last for life. The answer to the question “How long do you have to pay alimony?” may not be as long as you expect.