You’ve been with your spouse for many years, and you even stepped away from your career to raise your young children. Today, they’re older, but you are still at home taking care of them after school and making sure they get to their afterschool activities.

Over time, your spouse has started distancing himself from you. You noticed it a day or two at a time before, but now it’s so often that you feel you barely know one another. You were hardly surprised when he eventually brought you divorce documents.

Of course, you’re frustrated and angry. You stayed at home, gave up a lucrative career and put your children first. Instead of being grateful, your spouse is walking away. Now, you want to seek spousal support.

What is California’s spousal support rule?

California’s spousal support rule generally allows for spousal support to last half the length of a marriage. So, if you were married for 10 years, you could collect spousal support for five. In longer marriages, the court won’t necessarily set a duration for spousal support.

What’s interesting about spousal support in California is that the burden of proving that it’s not necessary is on the person who has to pay, not on the person requesting spousal support.

Can you set up your spousal support agreement outside court?

If you and your spouse are able to sit down and discuss spousal support, then you could come up with your own arrangements outside court. If you agree and sign a written agreement, you won’t need to go before a judge. The judge will have to accept the agreement and sign it as an order, however, so you should do your best to create an agreement that is fair.

Before you set up your own arrangements, it is smart to inform yourself about the responsibilities and rights that come with spousal support. You and your spouse should both work with an attorney to make sure you understand how much will be paid, how it will be paid and other factors that are involved in spousal support. Your attorneys can also draw up the agreement, so that it is legally binding once it’s signed and approved by the judge.

If you believe that you need spousal support, don’t be afraid to ask for it. If your spouse doesn’t agree, you can turn to the court for help receiving your fair share.