California Family Code 4336

Court’s power over alimony in a long term marriage

Family Code 4336

Family Code 4336 explains the court’s jurisdiction over spousal support

Since Family Code 4336 focuses on spousal support (also called alimony) in a long-term marriage, let’s look at its language.

Family Code 4336's text

Family Code 4336 states:

“(a) Except on written agreement of the parties to the contrary or a court order terminating spousal support, the court retains jurisdiction indefinitely in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or for legal separation of the parties where the marriage is of long duration.

(b) For the purpose of retaining jurisdiction, there is a presumption affecting the burden of producing evidence that a marriage of 10 years or more, from the date of marriage to the date of separation, is a marriage of long duration. However, the court may consider periods of separation during the marriage in determining whether the marriage is in fact of long duration. Nothing in this subdivision precludes a court from determining that a marriage of less than 10 years is a marriage of long duration.

(c) Nothing in this section limits the court’s discretion to terminate spousal support in later proceedings on a showing of changed circumstances.

(d) This section applies to the following:

(1) A proceeding filed on or after January 1, 1988.

(2) A proceeding pending on January 1, 1988, in which the court has not entered a permanent spousal support order or in which the court order is subject to modification.”

What is Family Code 4336 telling us?

  1. Spouses have the power through their written agreement to terminate alimony including the court’s power to award it in a long-term marriage. We strongly believe a judgment or post judgment stipulation and order signed by the parties, their attorneys (if represented) and the court should comprise this written agreement.
  2. The court keeps its power indefinitely in a divorce or legal separation action to award alimony unless the spouses agreed in a written agreement to terminate that court’s power or the court itself terminated its power.
  3. The court has the power to terminate alimony in a long-term marriage even if the spouses do not agree on this issue. This usually happens in a post divorce judgment modification of alimony. One party may bring a post judgment termination of alimony against the other party.
  4. The court presumes a marriage of 10 years or longer from the date of marriage to the separation date is a marriage of long-duration. A party may rebut this presumption. It is not a conclusive presumption.
  5. The court has the ability to look at separation periods that occurred during the marriage to determine if the marriage is truly long-term marriage. To learn more about date of separation, please check out our page on Family Code 70.

We will skip explanation of the 1988 provisions because they are self-explanatory.

Family Code 4336 is about both power and freedom

Family Code 4336 explains to the court that it should maintain its power over alimony in a long-term marriage while the divorce is pending and through the divorce trial even if it does not award alimony. For practical purposes, that is usually how it happens in situations if the court does not award alimony in a long-term marriage. But Family Code 4336 also gives the spouses the freedom to terminate alimony and the court’s power to award it. It also gives the court the ongoing power to terminate alimony and the court’s power to award it in the future.

Contact us regarding your specific alimony questions

If your potential or pending divorce or post judgment matter is in Orange County, Los Angeles or any of the other five Southern California counties, please contact us for an affordable strategy session to discuss your specific situation. Our family law firm is highly experienced in handling pending and post-judgment divorces that involve alimony issues.

To learn more about alimony, check out our comprehensive guide on California alimony laws.

Nothing contained on this page or on our website is legal advice nor should it be construed as such. It is not intended to apply to your specific situation or answer your specific questions.

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