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Divorce After 10 Years of Marriage & What You Can Get from It

Anna Khmara

Anna is a certified life transformation and relationship coach with an in-depth focus on positive psychology and transactional analysis. Using her 3+ years of experience, she helps her clients understand the essence of the problem, build self-esteem, establish healthy relationships, find harmony, and manifest their dreams into reality.

Ten years of marriage is an important milestone in terms of post-divorce benefits. Some of them can even be life-saving in certain circumstances. And the fact that so few people know about these opportunities is especially unfortunate.

The 2016 Census.gov report says that 13% of all marriages end after 5 years, and only 68% of the rest survive the 10th anniversary.

If these marriages hadn’t dissolved before the ten-year mark, there would have been several pleasant perks for the divorcees. In this article, we’ll explore the most advantageous aspects of divorce after 10 years of marriage.

What is a Wife Entitled to After 10 Years of Marriage?

The benefits of divorce after 10 years of marriage apply to either spouse regardless of their gender. So, the husband has the same rights to benefit from a long-term union as the wife if they meet the specific requirements.

In some states, divorce before 10 years of marriage is not wise from a financial point of view. But, to make it clear, no one says that a person should suffer in an unhappy marriage for many years just to receive benefits in the future.

What is a Wife Entitled to After 10 Years of Marriage?

Here’s what you’re entitled to after 10 years of married life:

  • Special rules for spousal support award;
  • Social security benefits;
  • Military benefits if one of the spouses is a military member.

Let’s now explore in-depth how a ten-year-long marriage could improve a person’s position after divorce. But first, note that all the information below is presented purely for informational purposes. Consult an attorney for more specific explanations and legal advice.

Social Security Benefits of Divorce after 10 Years

One wonderful concept connected with a long-term marriage is receiving spousal benefits after reaching the retirement age. A person is eligible if they meet these requirements:

  • The marriage was ten years or longer.
  • The person requesting spousal benefits is at least 62 years old and unmarried.
  • The spouses are divorced for two years.

Thus, “waiting beyond the full retirement age to get spousal benefits doesn’t make any sense,” says Josh Scandlen, CFP. In this way, a person would only lose money they could receive during the missed years.

The benefits are based on the former spouse’s earnings and their retirement pay. As a result, the spouse filing for these benefits can have half of their spouse’s earnings when reaching their full retirement age.

Look for more information on the Social Security Administration website.

Exceptions to the 10-Year-Marriage Rule

Sometimes the couple gets divorced earlier than 10 years but then the former spouses remarry each other. Are they still eligible for social security benefits? The answer is yes.

The Social Security Administration provides an exception for such couples. If the spouses are divorced and then married the same or following year and in total were married for ten years, they meet the 10-year rule.

Alimony After 10 Years of Marriage

Spousal support is often crucial for surviving a divorce after a long marriage. “For the great pool of middle-class couples who divorce with little property but with a steady income stream, alimony is the only available tool for addressing disparate earning capacity,” says Cynthia Starnes, clinical social worker.

Alimony After 10 Years of Marriage

That’s why many people try to get the most beneficial support order when divorcing.

Spousal support is not awarded automatically in every divorce. Instead, the courts usually determine it on a case-by-case basis. Plus, there are no clear guidelines on calculating how much money one spouse should pay the other.

However, the court follows a set of factors for deciding the amount and duration of the support:

  • The extent to which each spouse’s earnings are enough to keep the same standard of living as during their marriage.
  • The share of marital and separate property each spouse receives after divorce.
  • Other assets and debts of the parties.
  • The supported party’s employment opportunities and time needed to find a job, etc.

Several states, such as California and Texas, have a 10-year rule for spousal support. However, the laws may differ. For example, in Texas, a person must prove their inability to support themselves to be eligible for financial aid.

So, it is a good idea to consult a lawyer and study the family law of each state in detail before starting a divorce process.

For illustration purposes, let’s look at California divorce laws after 10 years of marriage.

California 10-Year Marriage Law

A marriage that lasts for more than ten years is automatically considered of long duration. Alimony in divorce before 10 years of marriage in California will last one-half the length of the marriage. So, for instance, if the couple divorced after 9 years, the spousal support’s duration will be no longer than 4.5 years.

Now, how is a divorce after 9 years of marriage more advantageous than the 10-year one?

It’s a common misconception that if a long-term marriage ends in divorce, the spousal support will be paid indefinitely. That’s not entirely true.

The 10-year rule in California divorce affects the court’s jurisdiction rather than the length or amount of support. If a couple has stayed together for ten years, it doesn’t mean that one spouse will receive permanent spousal support. It also doesn’t mean that its amount will be one-half of a former spouse’s earnings.

The 10-year marriage law in California says:

  • The court will retain jurisdiction over modification of the support order after the divorce is final.
  • Spousal support is not limited to the half-length of the marriage. It is awarded for a reasonable period until the dependent party becomes self-supporting. Some exceptions can be found in Chapter 9 of the California Family Code.
  • If the parties’ circumstances have changed, the divorce court may alter the original orders 5 or 10 years after divorce and terminate the support in later proceedings.

When Does Alimony End?

Alimony in California after 10 years of marriage will terminate with the court’s order or on the date that the spouses determine in a settlement agreement. Other circumstances provided by California Law include the remarriage or death of the supported party or the spouse who paid alimony.

If the spouses decide to waive support during the proceedings, it will become non-modifiable even if they divorce after 10 years of marriage in California.

Benefits of Divorce after 10 Years for Military Spouses

A person whose former spouse is a military member can also qualify for a share of their retired military pay. It is a part of marital assets in a divorce, just like other retirement accounts. So, the court will determine whether to divide it and how.

Benefits of Divorce after 10 Years for Military Spouses

The retirement benefits may be divided even if the marriage lasted for one or two years. It’s not what the 10-year rule on divorce is about. It refers mainly to the way of receiving the benefits.

The ordered share will be paid to the ex-spouse directly from the Department of Defense if the 10-year marriage overlaps with at least 10 years of active duty.

The Bottom Line

A divorce process after a 10-year marriage is unlikely to bring positive emotions, but it may well provide some valuable benefits. However, remember that none of the benefits listed above will fall into your hands without your participation. That is why you need to know your rights. With this knowledge, you can get the most that the state and the court can give you.


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