How long will I pay alimony?

When a judge decides to issue an order for alimony, he or she will consider many factors to determine the need for payments. The goal of alimony is to help ensure equality in financial situations after a divorce.

In general, the court wants each party to eventually be able to financially support themselves, but since divorce causes major changes in the financial situations of a couple, the judge may be open to allowing long-term alimony payments. It really depends on your situation as to what the judge decides.

General rule

The general rule, according to, is that alimony can last for the length of the marriage if your marriage was less than 20 years. For example, if you and your spouse were married for 10 years, then the court can order you to pay alimony for ten years.

There are exceptions if the circumstances of your marriage or your situations after the divorce require a lengthier time for payments.

Longer marriages

For marriages lasting 20 years or more, the law used to allow for lifetime alimony where you would pay until one of you dies. However, reform in New Jersey led to lifetime alimony disappearing. Now a judge can issue open durational alimony. This will end when you reach full retirement age for Social Security.

Other ways to end

Regardless of the court’s order, alimony will always end with your death or the death of your former spouse. You can also request the court to end the order if your former spouse begins living with a romantic partner and commingling finances with that person. If your former spouse remarries, this also will end your obligation.