How long after a divorce can you ask for and receive alimony?

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How long after a divorce can you ask for and receive alimony?

I was divorced 10 years ago; at that time the stress of the court rooms was causing me so much I put on hold alimony which I have documentation that would have been like $840 a month for the rest of my life. At that time my attorney told me I could go back into the courtroom to get it at any time this has been some years later I have not worked in 5 years due to an injury in my neck and nerve damage throughout my body it has now cause me to be homeless and living off of social security at the age of 51, I need to go back in the courtroom and get alimony how hard is that to do at this time I walked away and he had over a million dollars from my personal injury case so he does not work I do not work but he is set up for life and I am homeless.

Asked on July 11, 2015 under Family Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Consult with a family, matrimonial, or divorce law attorney immediately--you may not have gotten correct advice earlier. If there was a divorce decree (court order in your divorce) earlier, that decree was final; it settles the rights of the parties, including to spousal support (alimony). Sometimes the amount ordered can be adjusted later, if there are new or changed circumstances making it inequitable to not adjust the level of support, but it is not clear that this exception applies here, if no alimony was ordered.

Furthermore, the law and courts dislike when parties wait unreasonably long before seeking to vindicate their rights--this interferes with the effective and efficient administration of justice and also prejudices the other party, which was acting in reasonable expectation that the matter was settled. Even if you could legally try to get alimony now, there is a good chance that the court would not in fact award it to you, under a doctrine such as "laches" which punishes parties for waiting much longer than they had to--and it's not clear why you waited 10 years (and 5 years past your injury) to seek alimony. A court may refuse to entertain your case after so much time.

You need the advice and help of experienced divorce counsel, and you need it now, before any more time goes by. The longer you wait, the worse your case.


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