how long do I have to pay alimony for a wife?
Child Custody Lawyer
This question requires a lot more information before it can be answered. Generally speaking, however, in California the longer you are married the longer the exposure to the payment of spousal support. In California a distinction is made between marriages less than 10 years and more than 10 years. While the courts generally have discretion in these areas, if a marriage is less than 10 years in length (form the date of marriage to the date of separation) the amount of time for spousal support to remain open (if not also being paid) is equal to one-half the length of the marriage. Marriages of more than ten years are not so limited. Also, the term "limited" here is a bit of a misnomer because the courts have broad discretion is awarding spousal support and they must review and apply a myriad of factors in their analysis. This is a more complicated matter than many people realize, so I encourage you to speak to an experienced family law professional about the specifics of your situation. Good luck.
Family Law Attorney
"It depends on the wife!"
The length of court-ordered spousal support, in California depends on a number of different factors, most importantly the length of the marriage, and the effect of the circumstances of the marriage on wife's future ability to be self-supporting (or the husband's; California spousal support is gender neutral).
If parties are married a short time, both continued to work through the marriage, and each is self-supporting at the date of separation, it is possible that the court may order neither to pay any support to the other.
On the other hand, if the parties are married for several decades, Wfe stopped working shortly after the marriage to raise the children, never completed an education beyond high school, is now 58 years old, hasn't worked outside the home in 38 years, and is now not very employable even with diligent effort, it is likely that a court will order spousal support payable until either party's death, wife's remarriage, or until some other economic circumstance occurs which would justify terminating or reducing the spousal support award.
You should consult a local attorney with substantial family law experience to review any court orders which are now in place, and to provide you with more specific guidance.