California law provides that if you have been married 10 years or more, the court has discretion to order lifetime spousal support to the person who is the low earner. The seven-year mark is a critical date if you have a history of problems and are deciding whether to stay married, because California cases say that the court has discretion to consider seven or eight years a long-term marriage. If you are the high earner and your spouse has had numerous affairs or has been in jail for domestic violence, you should think hard about whether this is a marriage you want to stay in for longer than seven years.
Even when you have a 25 or 30-year marriage and you are the spouse who has been non-working and deserves spousal support, people still may fight about the amount you are entitled to. You should start planning how to obtain the highest amount of support or defend against lifetime support at the beginning stages of the divorce. You should get a consultation with an experienced family law litigator who will tell you to at least consider doing A, B, and C.
Do not assume that because you had a marriage that was longer than 10 years, you will be forced to pay spousal support. There are a lot of things you can do to prevent that. Or on the opposite, do not think that it will be a cake walk to get lifetime support at a guaranteed amount. Permanent spousal support cases go to trial most frequently because there is so much discretion involved. It is a litigator's perfect field because there are so many things that a litigator can do that could change the ultimate result. It is a very important area of family law.