Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner Should Be Proud

Posted By Mark Baer || 30-Jun-2015

Although I am a famiy law attorney and mediator, I am rarely pleased to hear when a couple is divorcing and the same is true for Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner. My thoughts are with both of them because regardless of how amicable a couple may be, divorce is tough, extremely stressful, and involves a great many losses.

I am thrilled to hear that Ben and Jennifer are mediating their divorce. I am a huge advocate for divorce mediation. It is also nice to hear that they will share joint custody of their 3 children because generally speaking, children do best with shared custody, which means that no parent has less than a 33% timeshare. Since they will be parents to their 3 children for the rest of their lives, it is wonderful that the divorce is amicable and that they are able to be bigger than their problems for the sake of their children. After all, it is parental conflict and not divorce that harms children.

I have tremendous respect for both of them for the manner in which they are handling their divorce. They are examples of how parents should divorce.

That being said, some people may be interested in the significance of ten years in a divorce case.

There is a "presumption" in California that a marriage of 10 years is a long-term marriage. Many people don't realize that it is merely a "presumption." Depending upon the circumstances of any given case, it is possible for marriages of less than 10 years to be considered long-term marriages and for marriages of over 10 years not to be considered such.

The significance of a long-term marriage has to do with the duration of spousal support. When a long-term marriage ends, unless the parties agree otherwise, the spousal support last until the death of either party, remarriage of the party receiving the support, or further order of court, whichever first occurs. For marriages of shorter duration, the general rule is that spousal support lasts for one-half the length of the marriage.

If Ben and Jennifer have a pre-marital agreement in place, they may have waived spousal support (which may or may not be enforceable) or otherwise may have limited the amount and or duration of such support.

In any event, I wish Ben, Jennifer, their three children and their entire family all the best. From my perspective, their children are fortunate to have them both as parents for all of the reasons I have stated and more.