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Are Alimony Payments Dependent on the Length of the Marriage?

There are many factors that can affect how long an alimony agreement can last in the state of New Jersey. One is the length of time that you were married. Generally, the longer you are married the longer one spouse will have to make alimony payments, but many of the specifics are up to a judge. It helps to have representation that can assist you in these negotiations though, so you should consider hiring our Morris County, NJ alimony and spousal support lawyers.

How Does the Length of Marriage Affect Alimony Payments?

How long you were married is one of the key determinants of how long a spousal support agreement can last in New Jersey. There are two general rules to be aware of:

  • Open duration, or permanent, alimony is only awarded when the marriage lasted 20 years or more
  • An alimony agreement can only last as long as the marriage did if the marriage lasted fewer than 20 years

So if you divorce after being married for 10 years, a court usually cannot award limited duration alimony that will last longer than 10 years. In many cases, an agreement for spousal support does not last for as many years as the marriage did. It is more common for an agreement to last for around half the marriage’s duration, so five years for a 10-year marriage.

Can Alimony Agreements Last Longer?

In some rare cases, the general rules outlined above do not apply. Sometimes an agreement for spousal support can last longer due to the unique circumstances of your marriage or relationship. A judge could look at factors such as:

  • The level of dependency one spouse had on the other during the marriage
  • Whether one person has given up opportunities to support the other spouse and their career
  • A spouse’s health conditions and whether they could require additional support as a result
  • Whether one spouse is a primary caregiver and that affects their ability to support themself

If there is good reason to, an alimony agreement could be extended beyond the expected length of time. There are also some situations in which a couple makes their own agreement that would last longer than the court would have recommended on its own.

When Can Alimony Payments End Early?

An agreement to support a spouse can end earlier than originally agreed to. This usually occurs when the supported spouse enters into a new relationship where they would no longer need their former spouse’s support.

This means that a spouse remarrying or entering a civil union will no longer receive alimony payments. Showing that the supported spouse is cohabitating with someone who they are in a relationship with can also get you out of an alimony agreement earlier.

Consult With an Experienced Alimony Attorney

If you have more questions about alimony and divorce, we are ready to help you. Contact Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark and schedule a free consultation. We would love to have the chance to tell you more about how we can be of assistance.