In marriages of less than ten years, the statute provides a presumption that support should be granted for half the length of the marriage.
The California legislator has enacted a statute which indicates that when permanent support is established at the time of trial, it is an abuse of discretion for the court to set a future termination date if the marriage is of lengthy duration. The statute goes on to indicate that any marriage of ten years in duration is considered a lengthy marriage.
As a practical matter, in the late 1990s it appears that spousal support duration is linked to a transition period from married life to single life. The circumstances vary from person-to-person, but the courts tend to disfavor "lifetime support." However, where in a long-term marriage the supported spouse is disabled or seriously ill there will probably be a long-term order.
A recent appellate decision the court ruled that the duty of a supporting spouse to continue to work to support their ex-spouse ends at age 65 upon eligibility for retirement.