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Durational alimony for shorter-term marriages

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2022 | Divorce

When New Jersey couples get divorced, they will generally understand the basics of the process. One issue that comes to the forefront is alimony (also referred to as spousal support). This is true in high-asset divorces and in cases where the people were of more modest means. However, some aspects of the case will be more complex than the simple matter of how much one former spouse will pay to the other. A common topic of concern is the duration for which the alimony will be paid. This is especially worrisome for people whose marriage was of a limited duration. This is where durational alimony needs to be considered.

Marriages shorter than 20 years

Durational alimony will be paid for a certain amount of time. The length of the marriage is a key part of the case. If the marriage was for less than 20 years, state law says that the alimony will not last longer than the marriage unless exceptional circumstances are shown. If, for example, the couple was married for 15 years, then the alimony will not be paid for more than 15 years. The standard factors for determination of alimony still apply. That includes the needs of the parties; their ability to pay; how long they were married; age, physical condition and emotional health; standard of living; how long the recipient might have been out of the job market; if there are children; financial contributions; property division; taxes; and other issues that are considered important.

Since the parties, in general, will live separately after the divorce, the increase in cost of living will be considered. Exceptional circumstances could involve an illness, dependency on the other and attempts to come to a fair determination. An example could be the receiving party putting their own career on hold to help the other advance and is now limited in what they can earn. Other challenges might come up that will be considered as exceptional circumstances.

Having guidance can be essential

People who did not have a lengthy marriage and are asked to pay alimony could balk at being obligated to pay for a specific length of time beyond what they think is reasonable. Those who are requesting alimony will often have legitimate reasons why they claim to need it for the maximum duration or longer. In a divorce – high-asset or otherwise – it is imperative to have a grasp of the law and to have guidance with all areas of alimony. Discussing the case with those experienced in family law can be helpful.