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You don't have to accept paying alimony long-term

Last month, a southern California man, who'd previously been ordered to pay $1,000 in alimony each month to his ex-wife for the rest of his life, decided to try to do something to improve both his and other spouses' plights. That Huntington Beach man decided to introduce a ballot initiative aimed at changing California's spousal support laws. Should voters accept it, it would pave the way for lifetime spousal support awards to be reduced to just five years.

Current California laws are ambiguous about how long spouses should be required to pay their exes alimony. The law allows judges to decide what is a "reasonable period of time".

Many family law judges in Riverside and elsewhere in the state take this to mean that they should order a paying spouse to pay support for up to half as long as a marriage lasted. This often leaves husbands and wives paying for a long time. State law allows judges to not set an end date if the marriage lasted a decade or longer though.

The man that has spearheaded this ballot initiative has created the website CalAlimonyReform.org to educate others about spousal support rights and roles. He initially attempted yet failed in getting the initiative on the ballot in 2016.

He concedes that his previous effort likely failed because it only gave the paying spouse a one-year reprieve from making payments. It only allowed them to stop paying if they could prove that they were facing some type of financial hardship as well.

The reform initiative's sponsor notes that he believes that his only impediment in moving the proposal along through the approval process at this point is fundraising. He and his supporters had collected as many as 2,000 signatures by last month. They need 623,000 people to pledge their support for the initiative if they wish to have it voted on in 2020.

Determining child and spousal support in California can be complicated. This is particularly the case if you or your spouse have means.

It is possible to negotiate a settlement that involves an exchange of property or other assets instead of you having to make monthly spousal support payments. A divorce attorney can discuss alternatives to alimony with you and help guide you in resolving other lingering matters that may be inhibiting you from settling your case.

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