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I was married for 18 years, and when we got divorced, I agreed to alimony for 8 years beca

use I wanted to remain...
I was married for 18 years, and when we got divorced, I agreed to alimony for 8 years beca use I wanted to remain friends with my ex and keep things alimony. I only have 5 more years of alimony left and am finding that I really need at least one more year of alimony, but he is insulted that I asked. I have moved to an area (Hawaii), where it is impossible to find a job in my professional area. Although I am well educated, the jobs just don't exist on this small island. I am 60 years old, so that makes it more challenging. I would be able to live on my retirement, if I could get alimony for one more year. Is that unreasonable to ask? I have an attorney friend who says many people who have been married for 18 years get alimony for life. I didn't think it would be hard to find a job when I agreed to 8 years. I had hoped that if I could find documentation that alimony for life or certainly more than 8 years is typical, that he might agree to reconsider. I am wondering what is typi
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Answered in 6 minutes by:
2/1/2013
Law Educator, Esq.
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 119,583
Experience: Experienced attorney: Family law, Estate Law, SS Law etc.
Verified
Under CA Family Code Section 4336, the court retains jurisdiction over these cases of alimony when there is a long term marriage and the court may modify the alimony for good cause if they choose. The rule of thumb for marriages over 10 years is the length of alimony is at the minimum 1/2 of the number of years of marriage, so in general you would be entitled to 9 years of alimony minimum and if you can prove need the court could grant longer alimony because of the long term marriage.

You would be able to go back to court and file a motion to modify alimony and provide proof of need and proof you are actively seeking employment to the court and the court can order an extension of alimony if he is refusing to reconsider. You would have to file in CA, since that is the court that retains jurisdiction.


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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Thank you for your reply...btw, I noticed a typo in my initial question..what I meant to write is that I was trying to keep things harmonious, not alimony, lol. In any event, what I was trying to determine, by asking an expert, is that how could I show that people get alimony for more than half the marriage, if the marriage was a longterm one, such as mine for 18 years. My ex husband is a very reasonable and honest man, and I thought (hoped) that if he saw that most people who have been married for 18 years got more alimony than for half of the marriage, that he would reconsider. Since he says the alimony was figured on half of the time of our marriage, then I think he thinks he is being more than generous. Since we remain best friends, I don't want to hurt him, but I also didn't realize that I would have a hard time finding a job and now that I have new financial retirement planning information, I realize that the one year of additional alimony (which would allow me to take social security at 66, rather than 62), makes a huge difference in how I will be able to live. Is there no data that I could show that indicates that a large percentage of people get alimony from a long term marriage for longer than half the time of the marriage? I would need this information and statistics in order to plead my case. Without it, I fear that I would be doomed and have no chance of getting him to reconsider. We never went to court in the first place. We did our divorce together with a mediator of a sort, but basically we just agreed with each other. It was a very painful time for both of us and I just wanted the settlement part to be over as quickly as possible so we could go back to being friends. I am hopeful you can provide an answer that would support my question. Because if it's the half the marriage rule of thumb, then I guess I have nothing more that can help my case. If there is information about women my age being a factor, then perhaps that could help, as well. He is in the fortunate position, even when he retires, of getting his full salary for life. I, however, do not have a pension and am very worried about how I will survive. His only reply is that I should have thought of that before I left our marriage, (sigh). I would appreciate your further clarification on my initial question.


 


 

Alimony is based on your need and inability to find work to support yourself, which is what you have to prove to the court. Here is what the CA Court states, California marriages of 10 years or more are considered marriages of long duration, and as such the court is not allowed to set a definite termination date for spousal support at the time of trial:
    As recognized by our Supreme Court the public policy of this state has progressed from one which “entitled some women to lifelong alimony as a condition of the marital contract of support to one that entitles either spouse to post dissolution support for only so long as is necessary to become self-supporting.
SEE: In re Marriage of Schmir (2005) 134 CA4 432.

Thus, you have to prove you cannot yet be self supporting and the court will extend the alimony.
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Paul, I appreciate your further clarification. It leaves me in a dilemma on several fronts...1) I don't want to upset my friendship with my ex, or make him upset 2) I can't afford to go to court, emotionally or finanially 3) I don't have the facts to support my request.


 


This brings me back to the initial reason I wrote to Just Answers. I can't imagine that there are not statistics floating around about what is truly fair for a woman 60 years of age (65 at the time of the end of the current alimony agreement) that would support receiving alimony for more than 1/2 of the length of the marriage. If I could just have facts to support that fact, I think he would see the reasonableness of my request. I don't suppose anyone paying alimony thinks it's fair for any reason, but if I could only have some facts to support my request, I am hoping he would reconsider. That's what I was asking initially...where can I find these facts, since I am sure that they must exist. I can show that I have been looking for employment and can't find any professional work in my field, but I'm trying to avoid anything that would upset my ex. I keep thinking that if he knows what the facts are for older professional women in the workplace, along with if it's more standard than not to receive alimony for more than half the marriage, in long term marriages, then he might see the merit of my request...or at least I hope so.

There are no statistics floating around because every case is examined on the specific facts of the case with regard to need of the spouse receiving the alimony and the spouse paying. You can show him the law and proof that you have been looking for employment and there is none to be had. Unfortunately, we can provide you with the law and the guidelines, but we cannot do anything about the fact you do not want to take him back to court, but you could threaten to do so and reason with him saying the cost of support for another one or two years would be less than he would have to spend on legal fees.
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Ok well I think you have given me as much information as you have access to. As an expert in family law, I understand that you are a verified expert in divorce law as part of your practice, so to wrap this up, do you think my request is reasonable, and based on your experience in practice in this field, that the judge would find this to be a reasonable request as well. I don't want to request anything that seems unfair to him, but I want to be fair to me, as well. So in your experience, how do judges tend to rule in this type of situation, where the ex spouse receiving alimony has been married for 18 years and is in her 60s and having trouble finding employment. Would the judge think that I should find any kind of work, even if it's menial and not in my professional area of expertise? (gerontology, therapeutic recreation, social services and holistic health?) I want to do the right thing...to be fair to him, and to be fair to me. I can't imagine that he would want to leave me struggling and without a way to survive. I have my house up for sale, to see if I could live on less, but so far no interest. Anyway, I'm trying to explore my options, which is why I wrote to e-answer, to try to determine what was fair and reasonable in the eyes of the law. I could not have imagined what I would be currently going through when we finalized our divorce, which is why I am re-visiting this situation now. Thank you again for your additional clarification on this matter. (P.S. I just checked your bio on the Just Answer website, and although it is impressive, it does not list a specialty under family law. I really need to get these answer from an attorney who specializes in CA divorce law...I am concerned that you may not have all the answers I am seeking because you do not practice this type of law...hmmm...your information is certainly helpful, but I need it to be complete based on practicing in this area). Do you practice in this area? If not, how do I get the answers from someone who practices in this field...that's what I thought I was getting when I submitted this question.

Depending on the exact wording of your marital settlement agreement regarding alimony, of course, YES I think that if you prove you have been looking for employment diligently to support yourself and he has the ability to pay, I see the court extending the alimony for at least until you are eligible for SS.

No offense taken, but the law is the law and we go to law school to learn how to read the law. Furthermore, my practice is in another community property state, which is what CA is, and that is LA , so I am quite familiar with spousal support in a community property state and I most certainly do "practice this type of law." Remember we are not here to represent you, we are merely providing you information on the law in particular areas so that you can engage local representation being better informed. We answer questions from all states because we have all been taught to actually read and interpret the laws of all states in law school.
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Thank you Paul, I am happy to hear you practice this type of law. One of the bio links I clicked on for you, didn't say that...it said maritime law and a bunch of other areas, but not family law...when I looked at another section, it did say family law. I just wanted to be sure that my questions were being answered by someone who has handled a lot of divorces...otherwise it's like asking a heart surgeon for advice on brain surgery, lol. Everyone has their areas of expertise, so thank you for that clarification.

 

I think that since my ex husband is very fair minded, that maybe he would think that a judge is the better person to make a decision on this. If he doesn't want to extend for the one extra year, then there could be a risk that the judge would see that it's hard for a 65 year old to get employment to maintain a standard of living, and grant alimony for an even longer period...which would be good for me and bad for him. I can get social security at age 62, but not enough to survive or pay bills. It will take waiting until age 66 to take social security for me to make the minimum to pay my expenses. So I assume that the judge would look at the employability factor and the previous lifestyle in making a decision re if the alimony should continue? Is that correct? Perhaps if I share this information, my ex will find my request more reasonable. It will not be hard to document looking for employment. And you didn't mention if the employment search is ok to look in my field. Having 3 masters degrees and 30 years professional experience and post graduate education, as well, I certainly don't want to have to take a job as a waitress or some menial labor. And even if I could get employment like that, which would be very depressing, I couldn't make enough to support myself. So do the judges consider one's previous lifestyle in their decision? And would the judge consider my need for social security at 66 rather than age 62? Because that is the whole issue that raised my question to begin with. Thanks again, Karen

I think you have a much better chance here of getting a alimony extension for anywhere from 1-5 years because you are NOT asking for permanent or lifetime alimony and the court sees that as your being reasonable in your request and they will also see that you are looking for employment within your training and education. Judges do look at all of this regarding your abilities to work and your education and the fact you are only looking for temporary support continuation and not lifetime support when making their decision.
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Paul, thank you again. You have been most helpful and I will be rating you at the highest level...so thanks. In conclusion, I did want to ask, if we seek a judge to help us decide what is fair in this situation, can I do that from Hawaii where I live, or do I need to go to CA to seek this, if my ex doesn't think I am being fair and wants a judge to decide. And lastly, since my ex is a well respected federal judge, do you think I can get a fair ruling? He is well known all over the U.S., so I am wondering about that. Anyway, I will be rating you to finish after your final response to this. And if I asked a judge for a ruling, I would be representing myself, as I cannot afford an attorney. I really think that if it's fair, then a judge will see it that way. And if it's not fair, then I wouldn't want to have anyone rule in my favor anyhow, since I am only trying to be fair here anyhow. Thanks again, Karen

You would have to either go to court yourself or be represented in court by an attorney, one or the other. Thus, you would have to go to court in CA, you could not do it all from Hawaii.

He is not supposed to be treated any differently, as you know, but I am sure some personal biases can occur if the judges know him. However, generally people in his position would rather stay out of court if they can help it and if your request is reasonable he is likely offer some settlement if you make a reasonable offer and it does sound like you are indeed trying to be fair with your offer from what you said so far.
Law Educator, Esq.
Category: Family Law
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Experience: Experienced attorney: Family law, Estate Law, SS Law etc.
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