What If I’ve Been Married More Than Ten Years?


In some instances, ten years is the benchmark for a marriage to be considered a long-term marriage.  California follows this general rule, along with the Social Security Administration and the U.S. military, which can make it worthwhile to stick it out a little longer if you are close to your ten-year anniversary.  (And vice-versa if you are more likely to be required to pay spousal support.) In some cases, a marriage shorter than ten years may be deemed a long-term marriage.  As with many decisions in family court, the judge has broad discretionary authority and his or her decisions are likely to withstand appeal if evidence was presented at trial to support the judge’s decision. California law (Family Code Section 4336(a)) says that where a marriage is “of long duration,” the court retains jurisdiction indefinitely after the divorce is completed, unless the spouses agree otherwise.  Retaining jurisdiction means the court may continue making decisions about matters between the ex-spouses, and can reevaluate original orders and modify them if the facts justify a change.  In other words, unless alimony was waived by agreement, a court can reopen a case and award alimony later based on a change in circumstances, even if alimony was not awarded in the original proceedings. The Social Security Administration also considers ten years to be a long-term marriage, which means a spouse could be eligible for derivative Social Security benefits if he or she remains unmarried at retirement age, depending on the former spouse’s earnings. If your spouse is an active duty member of the military and you were married ten years, you may also be eligible for retirement pay and other continuing military benefits. At the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger, we will persistently pursue the best outcome possible for you in your divorce or post-divorce proceedings, whether you need to demonstrate the other spouse’s faults, or defend such claims.  Judy L. Burger is known for her aggressive representation of clients in high conflict cases in and around the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas.  If you are a spouse facing litigation, call us today to learn more about how we can help.  Call (415)293-8314 in the San Francisco Bay area or (916)631-1935 in the Sacramento area, or contact us online via our confidential inquiry form.