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Family law and alimony for marriages shorter than 20 years

When there is a New Jersey divorce, one of the common issues that must be addressed is whether alimony (also referred to as spousal support) will be paid and for how long. This can be the foundation for dispute as the paying former spouse might want to limit the amount and duration, while the receiving former spouse will have justifications for the opposite. To adequately handle these concerns, it is wise to have a basic understanding of what state law says about certain factors and to have legal advice.

For marriages that lasted fewer than 20 years, the courts will only allow alimony to go beyond the length of the marriage in extraordinary circumstances. Otherwise, it will be limited. There are certain considerations that will be part of the process. In addition to these statutory factors, there are practical considerations that the court will account for including the parties living separately, living expenses, and maintaining a standard of living comparable to what they had during the marriage. Knowing those exceptional circumstances that the court uses to decide if the alimony should deviate from the basic rule is key.

The following exceptional circumstances may apply: how old the parties were when they got married and when the alimony award is made; if one party was dependent on the other during the marriage, the duration and level of dependency; if there was a health problem or chronic illness; if a spouse surrendered a career opportunity or supported the other; if a spouse received a disproportionate amount during equitable distribution; if the marriage had an impact on the ability to self-support; taxes; and other factors or concerns that are important.

Modifications can be made as situations change. The duration will be assessed in the context of how long it would reasonably take for the receiving former spouse to improve the situation so alimony is no longer needed. When getting a divorce or dealing with other parts of family law, it is imperative to know how alimony and more are decided upon. A law firm experienced in family law may be able to help.

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