Divorce in California—10-Year Rule Realities Clarified by DoNotPay

Divorce Settlement Agreement Divorce in California—10-Year Rule Realities Clarified by DoNotPay

The Truth About Divorce in California—The 10-Year Rule Explained

When you file for divorce, you want the process to be fast, cheap, and clear-cut so that you can move on with your life.

As a California resident, your settlement should be a once-off deal that gives you enough clarity to plan your future. California’s ten-year rule can potentially throw a spanner in the works, though.

DoNotPay is here to help you understand divorce in California—10-year rule provisions can be managed and avoided with DoNotPay’s advice!


How Does Divorce Work in California?

Divorce in California can be easy or complicated, depending on how much you and your spouse are prepared to work together to keep matters simple.

Once you have filed your divorce papers and served them on your spouse, their response will determine whether your divorce is classified as:

  1. Contested
  2. Uncontested

Contested Divorce in California

A contested divorce—in which your spouse is prepared to fight either the need for a divorce or the proposed settlement—will land in court and be decided by a judge.

This can be a lengthy process and can become expensive—California contested divorces frequently cost $17,500 per spouse.

The settlement you eventually achieve will be largely decided by the judge based on your declaration of your:

  • Assets
  • Liabilities
  • Income
  • Expenses

If you are aiming for a divorce after ten years in California, the repercussions of the judge’s decision could be wide-ranging.

Uncontested Divorce in California

If your divorce is classified as uncontested, the matter can be resolved without court proceedings and potentially without you having to engage an attorney.

Filing for an uncontested divorce in California will usually result in the judge scrutinizing your settlement to make sure that it is fair and equitable. If this is the case, your divorce will normally be granted with no further ado.

What Is the California 10-Year Rule?

The ten-year rule in California is a law by which the court has extended powers of jurisdiction in contested divorces between couples who have been married for ten years or more. The California family code section 4336(a) states that a court “retains jurisdiction” over divorced couples if the marriage was “of long duration.”

Under normal circumstances, alimony or spousal support in contested divorces in California is granted to the spouse who earns less for a period equal to half the duration of the marriage.

As an example, if you and your lower-income spouse have been married for four years, a judge will usually order you to pay alimony for two years. If you have been married for 12 years, the judge can order the minimum of six years’ alimony payments but can decide to extend that:

  • Indefinitely
  • Until your spouse remarries
  • Subject to periodic review

The fallout from this is that you may face an uncertain length of alimony payments—making it more difficult for you to achieve closure and plan your financial future.

How Can You Avoid the 10-Year Rule?

The best way to avoid being punished by the California 10-year rule is to work with your spouse to ensure the divorce is:

  • No-fault—meaning that neither spouse has to prove wrongdoing as grounds for the divorce
  • Uncontested—meaning that you have to agree on a settlement before your case comes to court

This means you and your spouse must work together to divorce in a friendly manner and draw up a divorce settlement agreement—a crucial divorce document that covers:

If you can succeed in reaching an out-of-court consensus, your divorce will be simplified considerably, and you can both make a clean break.

Where Can You Get a Divorce Settlement Agreement Drawn Up?

A divorce settlement agreement needs to be concise and comprehensive. Your options for having your settlement agreement prepared are:

Settlement Agreement Resource Explanation
Lawyer While a lawyer is the default choice for many couples, you may be able to avoid the expense if you can agree on the major points of your settlement.

Lawyers in California charge up to $400 per hour, and your costs can escalate fast.

Even if you cannot agree on everything, you can use a mediation service instead of a lawyer. A trained mediator in California can help you and your spouse negotiate a settlement at a fraction of an attorney’s cost

Online Many companies offer online solutions providing uncontested divorce papers that claim to be valid in California. Caution is recommended, though—many of the templates on offer are highly generic and may not cover your exact requirements. Any gaps in your agreement could lead to a judge declaring your settlement agreement invalid

DoNotPay can provide you with the best of both worlds. We can draw up a divorce settlement agreement to your exact specifications without you incurring the expense of a California attorney!

Avoid the Ten-Year Rule With DoNotPay!

DoNotPay is here to make your divorce as simple and hassle-free as possible! Our Divorce Settlement Agreement product gives you a watertight, customizable document that will pass a judge’s scrutiny and help you move on as quickly as possible.

All you need to do to set up your settlement agreement is:

  1. Sign up with DoNotPay in your web browser
  2. Search for our Divorce Settlement Agreement feature
  3. Fill in the points you have agreed on with your spouse

Once we have the details of your agreement, we will create it for you in a flash. You and your spouse can sign it and have it notarized. Use DoNotPay to find a notary in your area and get your document notarized online in no time!

DoNotPay Can Help With County Divorce Procedures in California

If you need info about your specific county or city in California, look no further than DoNotPay! With our help, you can get a quick divorce in San Diego or learn more about the divorce procedures in various counties, including:

Alameda County Contra Costa County Sonoma County
Santa Clara County Riverside County San Bernardino County
Kern County San Mateo County San Joaquin County
Stanislaus County Ventura County Fresno County

Military divorce in California is a specialized topic we can also help you with if you are stationed in the Golden State. Not sure what the difference between a legal separation and a divorce in California is? DoNotPay can help with that too!

What Other Issues Can Our App Solve?

DoNotPay can support you through various burdensome procedures and turn them into a breeze! Here’s a table showing a tiny part of our extensive offer:

DoNotPay Can Services
Create various documents
Protect your safety and privacy
Get your money back

DoNotPay Is Your Ticket to Simpler Life

Don’t bother going through complicated tasks alone—we are here to take care of them! Seek our help if you want to get in touch with customer service instantly, fax anyone online, or get your documents notarized. Besides providing these amazing services, DoNotPay can make preparations for your travel adventures by assisting you in getting passport photos at home and obtaining tourist visas.


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