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What Is Open Durational Alimony and When Is it Available?

In 2014, New Jersey changed the structure of post-divorce alimony awards. Instead of traditional permanent alimony, courts now grant open durational alimony, which is meant to be a more flexible arrangement. This type of spousal support does not have a fixed end date. Rather, it ends when the parties agree, when the court enters an order ending it or when the paying party reaches retirement age.

New Jersey’s statute governing open durational alimony sets a framework whereby the courts assess and award financial support based on the unique circumstances of each case. A court determining the amount and duration of alimony payments considers these factors:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Earning capacities of both spouses
  • The age of each spouse
  • Their physical and emotional health
  • Their standard of living during the marriage
  • Any financial or non-financial contributions made by either spouse

This evaluation process is aimed at helping the supported spouse maintain a lifestyle comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage, and also to give that spouse the resources to obtain the skills and education needed to become self-supporting.

In most cases, open durational alimony applies only to marriages that have lasted at least 20 years. If a marriage dissolves before the 20-year mark, the duration of alimony usually is limited to a term equal to the total number of years of the marriage unless extraordinary circumstances exist. Exceptional circumstances may include a spouse’s inability to support themselves due to physical or mental adversities.

Additionally, the courts have the authority to modify or terminate open durational alimony awards based on substantial changes in circumstances, such as the supported spouse’s cohabitation or remarriage. These measures reflect the state’s commitment to assuring fair and equitable alimony awards based on the individual circumstances of each party involved.

If you are going through a divorce that involves issues of spousal support, it will be helpful to consult an attorney experienced in alimony cases. Alimony awards are often related to the equitable distribution of marital assets. Your optimal goal should be a settlement agreement that includes provisions for resolving all aspects of both spouses’ post-divorce financial circumstances.

At the Law Offices of Kisha M. Hebbon in Somerset, New Jersey, we are experienced with New Jersey’s alimony laws and will work effectively to protect your interests. Call us today at 732-873-6464 or contact us online to schedule free consultation.

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