Can I Get Alimony After 2 Years Of Marriage in California?

People getting divorced in California after a relatively short marriage often wonder whether alimony is ever awarded in this type of situation. For instance, can a spouse get alimony after only two years of marriage?

It's a valid concern, especially for spouses who may have put their careers on hold. A two-year interruption in a career can take years to make up. So, while the answer generally depends on several factors, it is certainly possible for a court to award alimony after a two-year marriage. But whether you are seeking alimony or believe alimony is inappropriate in your situation, it is important for your divorce attorney to ensure that the court has access to all the evidence that supports your position.

Understanding Alimony in California

Alimony, officially called spousal support in California, refers to a financial arrangement where one spouse is required to provide financial assistance to the other following a divorce. The overarching goal of alimony is to mitigate the economic impact of divorce on the lower-earning spouse, allowing them to adjust financially over time without a drastic drop in their standard of living. The earning-disparity between spouses often becomes greater the longer a couple has been married, but it can be a significant issue for shorter marriages as well.

For marriages of short duration, typically defined as less than ten years in California, there is no automatic entitlement, alimony can still be awarded based on a thorough evaluation of both parties' needs and financial capabilities. In the case of a two-year marriage, factors such as the contributions made by each spouse to the marriage, the earning capacity of each spouse, and the standard of living established during the marriage are meticulously assessed.

Determining Alimony in Short Marriages

It is important to present evidence to show why an award of support is justified. This includes covering issues such as:

  • Economic Dependency: If one spouse significantly depends economically on the other due to the marriage, this dependency will be a critical factor in the alimony determination.
  • Earning Capacities: The court examines the current and potential future earning capacities of both spouses, considering any sacrifices one spouse made for the other's career advancement or for the family's benefit.
  • Standard of Living: The lifestyle the couple maintained during their marriage serves as a benchmark for determining the need for support with a goal of enabling both parties to maintain a reasonably similar standard of living post-divorce.

It’s important to note that alimony arrangements are not set in stone. They can be modified based on significant changes in circumstances such as a substantial increase in the recipient’s income or decrease in the payor's income, cohabitation of the receiving spouse with a new partner, retirement of the paying spouse, or other relevant changes. It is important to work with an attorney to ask the court to approve a change in alimony before making it, however, because alimony obligations are set by court order.

Short-Term Marriages and Alimony

In California, the length of the marriage is a significant factor in determining alimony. For marriages considered "short-term," generally less than ten years, the rule of thumb is that support may be granted for half the length of the marriage. Therefore, after a two-year marriage, you could be eligible for alimony for one year. However, this is not a guarantee and depends on other circumstances as well.

Factors Influencing Alimony Awards

Several factors can influence whether alimony is awarded in short-term marriages:

  • Financial Need and Ability to Pay: The court will assess the financial need of the requesting spouse and the other spouse's ability to pay. This includes examining both parties' current income, living expenses, and future earning potential.
  • Standard of Living During the Marriage: The lifestyle you and your spouse maintained while married sets a benchmark. If one spouse cannot meet this standard independently due to the divorce, alimony may be considered.
  • Contributions to the Marriage: This includes not only financial contributions but also non-monetary contributions, such as homemaking or supporting the other spouse's career.
  • Employment Impact: If one spouse's earning capacity was affected by unemployment or underemployment due to domestic responsibilities, this could justify an alimony award.

Navigating Your Alimony Request

Given the complexities surrounding alimony, particularly after a short marriage, it's crucial to have skilled legal representation. An experienced attorney can help you present a strong case for alimony by:

  • Gathering and presenting evidence of financial need and the other spouse's ability to pay
  • Demonstrating how the marriage affected your earning capacity
  • Arguing for a fair consideration of the standard of living established during the marriage

Whether or not alimony is awarded, planning for your financial independence after a short marriage is essential. This might mean reassessing your career goals, updating your skills, or furthering your education. Remember, alimony is viewed as a bridge to financial self-sufficiency, not a permanent solution.

Contact Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC

If you're going through a divorce in California and wondering about your eligibility for alimony after a short marriage, we're here to help. At Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, we understand the unique challenges you're facing and are ready to advocate effectively to help you reach your goals. Call us today at 855-426-9111 or online to schedule a consultation. Let's work together to navigate your divorce and secure the best possible outcome for your future.

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