How long does alimony last?

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How long does alimony last?

Alimony is a type of financial support that is sometimes ordered by the court during a divorce and sometimes agreed upon by spouses who are negotiating a property division settlement.

For example, perhaps one spouse is a CEO who makes millions of dollars a year. The other spouse is a stay-at-home parent who left the workforce 20 years ago to raise the couple’s children. If the two get divorced, the stay-at-home parent has far less earning capacity and may not be able to enter the workforce again. The CEO could be ordered to pay monthly alimony so that their ex’s needs can be met.

How long does this kind of arrangement last? Does this mean that someone may have to support their ex forever? How could that be fair when the marriage has ended?

The laws have been changing

Permanent alimony used to exist in New Jersey, but the laws changed in 2014. When that happened, permanent alimony ended, so all cases of court-ordered alimony (as opposed to a negotiated agreement) should have a specified end date from the moment that the alimony payments are ordered. Even those who are already paying permanent alimony may have the option to modify that payment schedule now.

Another important change involves marriages that were less than 20 years long when they ended. For those who were married for under two decades, the payments “cannot exceed the length of the marriage” except in “exceptional circumstances.” In other words, if two people are only married for 10 years, the maximum alimony payments that could be ordered would be for the next 10 years. But the courts would have the option to order payments for a shorter time, such as five years, if they felt that was appropriate.

Your alimony options

Are you getting divorced and wondering about alimony? Perhaps you believe you will be receiving payments from your ex, or maybe you’re wondering how much you’re going to have to pay. Either way, it’s important to know how the laws have changed over the years and what legal steps you’ll need to take to secure a fair distribution of your marital property.