How long do you have to be married to get alimony?

September 13, 2021

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What is Alimony?

Alimony is the financial support paid by one spouse to another, after divorce. The family court decides which partner for a particular case needs financial aid, by mulling over a variety of factors, and most importantly income of your spouse. 

The alimony ordered by the judge can either be temporary for a couple of months till one spouse finds a good job, and become capable to lead a financially independent life or permanent till the child turns 18. The amount of alimony is ordered by the court by carefully looking into the financial aspects of both the spouses. 

Now, coming to your question, how much time do you need to spend with your spouse to get alimony? So, read on as we learn about this.

There is one no-word answer to your query, as the length of time you need to marry to receive financial support after the divorce is according to the term stated by the state where you are fighting the legal battle of alimony. 

How long do you have to be married to get alimony?

In many states, the minimum standard marriage time to become eligible for alimony is 10-years, while in some states, they limit the amount of financial aid you receive, rather than denying based on time together. 

Generally, the state will rarely reward rehabilitative alimony or permanent financial support. Therefore, the court is the best place to request financial support as you are aware of the dependent partner in the relationship, and how you would survive after divorce. In most states, there are no laws that state when the court should consider the alimony request.

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However, the judge may disapprove of the request in several cases, such as the marriage lasting for a year or two, the requesting spouse has a high-paying job, and there is nothing that is preventing the spouse from going to work. 

State Laws For Alimony

In California, the daily courts look into the length of marriage to determine how long one spouse should receive alimony. For example, if the marriage lasted or more than a decade, then the judge may award long-term alimony for at least ten to twenty years. 

In certain scenarios, the spouse has to keep on paying the alimony till the ex-spouse marries. For a marriage that lasted less than ten years, the court may order alimony for half the period, meaning five years after the divorce. However, you need to know that these are guidelines, not restrictive laws that the judges have to agree on. They may order any alimony term, based on the unique circumstance of the case. 

Whereas, in Texas, alimony is popularly known as maintenance, and order under specific circumstances. The maintenance is ordered by the judge only for marriages that lasted for more than a decade. 

And, these marriages have to meet certain criteria, such as physical or mental disability, being responsible for the child, and unable to earn money to survive. Getting awarded with maintenance happens rarely in Texas. 

However, when the maintenance is so ordered by the judge, it lasts for a couple of years, till the ex-partner becomes financially independent. 

In most states, one year of marriage is a reasonable marriage time to award any sort of alimony. Again, you need to note that there are no rules written on the stone. The judge considers the case as an exception and gives a different judgment. 

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How Long Does Alimony Last?

There are mainly two factors for how long the alimony will last. One is the length of the marriage, and the other is the need & ability to pay. 

In Washington, the judge carefully looks at the length of the marriage, which is divided into three segments, first is short-term marriages( 7 years or less), mid-term marriages (8 to 24 years), and long-term marriages (25 years+). 

If it’s a short-term marriage, the alimony is often not awarded and doesn’t last for a long period. 

In long-term alimony, it is awarded for five years and more. The grant may be increased, based on the special needs of the spouse. Alimony is likely to give, if one spouse is high-earner, and the other partner is dependent on them. 

Let’s Wind Up

The family laws vary from one state to another, thus, it is of paramount importance that you consult an attorney. The attorney should be well-versed with the regional laws around alimony. They will best guide whether you should request financial support in court or not. 

If you are a partner responsible for paying off the alimony, they will leave no stone unturned to ensure the alimony money and term is as least as possible by putting forth valid reasons in front of the judge, such that your job is highly unstable.