Married 12 years. separated for 2 years. we agree to divorce. no children. how long to pay spousal support?

I have been paying her in good faith for the past 2 years. sometimes more than what we agreed upon $1200. half of our marriage we slept in separate rooms. she is on disability. now living in IL with her daughter. She wants me to pay 10 years, i think 6 or 7 total is fair. I give her half of my pay check. Its hard for me to live here in California. What is fair???

San Jose, CA -

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Attorney Answers (3)

David Alexander Yomtov

David Alexander Yomtov

Family Law Attorney - San Jose, CA

Deciding on permanent spousal support (amount or duration) can be a tough question. The analysis involves looking at the marital standard of living (MSL) and this usually involves looking at the income earned during the latter portion of the marriage and seeing a) who needs help achieving that MSL, and b) can the other one afford that amount, or perhaps some smaller amount, without bringing their own income below the MSL.

In your case, you have some complications, not the least of which is your wife's disability. It raises many questions, such as whether it is permanent or temporary, whether she has benefits and, if not, whether she's applied for them, etc., etc., etc.

In short, there is no easy answer to this question.

Legal disclaimer: The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to... more
John Noah Kitta

John Noah Kitta

Child Custody Lawyer - Fremont, CA

There are quite a number of components that go into the computation of spousal support and it is also important to know whether or not your spouse’s disability prohibits her from gainful employment. By statute a marriage over ten years is characterized as a long-term marriage and there usually is no absolute cut off on spousal support. There is a general presumption that someone should be self-supporting within one half the duration of the marriage but this position is riddled with exceptions. If she has permanent disability that does not allow her to work then you would probably be on the hook for spousal till your normal retirement age. In any event you probably should not be paying her over the following: take 40% of your net monthly income and subtract 50% of her net monthly income and that should ballpark be the spousal support, if anything on the high end.

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Jeffrey Phillip Blum

Jeffrey Phillip Blum

Family Law Attorney - Palo Alto, CA

I agree with Mr. Yomtov. Would I would add is that you might want to consider having a vocational evaluation done to determine whether there are jobs your wife can perform and if so what these jobs might pay. Also, you do not indicate whether your support payments are pursuant to a writing. There are tax deductions available to you if you have a written agreement (ie.; pursuant to a stipulation and order) for you to pay her support.

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Divorce is the process of formally ending a marriage. Divorces may be jointly agreed upon, resolved by negotiation, or decided in court.

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