I have made substantially more money than my spouse during the marriage. I have heard that if we divorce, I will have to pay support for half the length of our marriage. Is this true?
This is a common misconception and is not necessarily true. In California, there is a statutory goal that a supported spouse becomes self-supporting within a reasonable period of time (generally presumed to be half the length of the marriage if the marriage was of short duration). There is no statutory definition of a marriage of short duration, however—there is only a presumption that if a marriage has lasted more than ten years, it is a marriage of long duration. This means that the court will generally try to limit the amount of support to half the length of the marriage if the marriage is relatively short. For example, if the marriage lasted only two years, it is more likely that the court will terminate support after 12 months of payments. If, however, the marriage is closer to the ten-year mark, it is much less likely that the court will automatically terminate support at half the length of the marriage. In the case of marriages that are truly long-term, where the court believes a support award is appropriate, it is possible that the court will order indefinite support.