What Can We Learn from Bennifer’s Break Up?

Many were shocked when Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck announced their divorce. We discuss the significance of ending of a 10-year marriage.

Thursday, July 30, 2015 | 11:00 pm

When Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck announced their divorce it came as a huge shock to their fans. After all, in Hollywood ten years of marriage is akin to 50.

Believe it or not, ten years of marriage is legally significant, especially in the state of California.

So when it comes to settling in the divorce court, what is the difference between a ten-year marriage and a shorter marriage of only a few years?

Pasadena family law attorney Don Schweitzer says the difference can be costly. Under California law ten years is presumed to be a long-term marriage, and for those who seek spousal support they believe the longer the marriage, the more significant the spousal support in amount and length of time.

“The common misconception a spouse may have about spousal support, is that court ordered spousal support will provide them with support for his or her entire life. This is not the case,” says Schweitzer. “Court ordered spousal support is determined on a case-by-case basis, and once the amount and duration of the support is determined, it can fluctuate over duration of time.”

Don explained that if your paying ex-spouse is in an accident or loses his or her job, the support can be decreased to zero. The same thing applies if the payee dies or the ex-spouse receiving the money remarries, in which case spousal support terminates by law. In addition, the court may order a step down order, which means the support will decrease over time.

Furthermore, if at the time of receiving support the recipient isn’t working, the court can order the party to take on training or further their education to make him or her more employable. If after some period of time employment has not been met, the court may decrease or end payment all together.

In terms of what you can receive though, it really comes down to how long the marriage lasted but even that is not a hard-fast rule. It depends on circumstances, says Schweitzer.

“For example, if the couple lived together for several years before they got married, had children and then were married for a 9 years, the court may consider their marriage to be a long term marriage.”

“On the flip side,” explains Schweitzer, “I have seen cases where a couple was married for 10 plus years, yet the court departed from the presumption and ordered spousal support as though they had been married for only half of that time.”

In the case of Bennifer, sadly now just Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck, it seems pretty clear that the two were in a long-term marriage in the eyes of the state. But what if you’re facing a divorce where the relationship’s history is a bit muddled?

“It’s always beneficial to consult with an attorney that is a Certified Family Law Specialist regarding the situation because all of the variables play a role in how the divorce is settled,” suggests Schweitzer, who has had his certification for over fifteen years.

As a family specialist Mr. Schweitzer has made many television appearances as a legal advisor for Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor’, MSNBC, and CNN as well as providing legal commentary for a number of well televised cases such as The Michael Jackson case, Saddam Hussain, Casey Anthony and Martha Stewart to name but a few.

If you have any questions about spousal support or divorce proceedings, contact the Law Offices of Donald P. Schweitzer at (626) 683-8113 or visit www.pasadenalawoffice.com.

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