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Does California really have a 10-year marriage rule?

On Behalf of | Apr 23, 2024 | Family Law

If you plan to file for divorce, you may have well-meaning friends and family sharing information, tips, and advice about the process. However, just because someone else has divorced does not mean they understand the law or how it will impact your situation.

This is also one of the many reasons so many misconceptions about divorce exist.

One misconception revolves around a “10-Year Marriage Rule,” purportedly dictating significant changes in spousal support and asset division after a decade of marriage. Find out the truth about this here.

What is the 10-year marriage rule?

The 10-Year Marriage Rule is a common belief that marriages lasting a decade or longer trigger specific legal provisions in divorce proceedings. According to this belief, marriages reaching this milestone entail substantial changes in spousal support and asset division, potentially favoring the lower-earning spouse.

Spousal support

Contrary to popular belief, California law does not mandate an automatic adjustment in spousal support after 10 years of marriage. Instead, courts look at factors like how long a couple was married, their earning capacity, the standard of living and more. While longer marriages may influence the duration of support, the 10-year mark does not trigger an automatic change.

Asset division

California follows the principle of community property, where assets acquired during the marriage are typically shared and, therefore, equally divided in divorce. However, the duration of the marriage may influence the court’s decisions regarding asset division, especially concerning the division of assets acquired while the couple was married. 

Ultimately, divorce proceedings in California are determined on a case-by-case basis, with the court considering several factors to ensure the outcome is fair for everyone involved. While the duration of the marriage may influence certain aspects of the divorce settlement, there is no overarching “10-Year Marriage Rule” governing divorce proceedings in the state.