California has no legal restrictions on the length of time a divorced spouse may be required to pay alimony to their ex. The law states that a person may receive this support for a “reasonable period of time.” If a couple was married for a decade or longer, a judge may decide not to specify an end to the alimony.
One Huntington Beach man is working to change the law. He says he’s looking at the possibility that his $1,000 monthly spousal support payments to his ex-wife will continue indefinitely.
His efforts began several years ago with a proposed ballot initiative that would have allowed those who could show that paying alimony would cause them hardship to end their payments after a year. However, he was unable to collect enough signatures to get it on the ballot in 2016.
Now he is trying again. His new initiative, which he’s hoping to put before the voters in 2020, would limit payments to no more than five years. He’s created a nonprofit organization called CalAlimonyReform.org. One of its tenets deals with entitlement. Specifically, it says, “No adult is entitled to a certain standard of living provided by a parent, child or former spouse.”
The organization is trying to raise money to get the initiative on the ballot. That’s an expensive enterprise typically done by a petition company. According to the site, the average cost to sponsor a petition last year was over $2,500,000. The proposed measure currently has just 2,000 signatures of the over 623,000 it needs to get on the ballot, but the organization only started collecting them last month.
The software engineer behind the effort notes that even child support isn’t paid forever. He calls the idea of permanent alimony “really outdated.” He says, “People aren’t getting married and this is one of the reasons. I think a lot of young people hear horror stories.”
Every situation is unique, of course. However, if you believe that your spousal support payments should be modified or ended, discuss the matter with your attorney. They can work with you to make the case to the court.