In an interesting unpublished Appellate Division case, the court affirmed the trial court’s ruling as to the length of an alimony award in a long term marriage despite limited duration alimony being awarded.
In the case (which can be found here http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/a4735-11.pdf), the trial court awarded seven years of alimony for a marriage that exceeded twenty five years.
Often, people are preconditioned to believe that long term marriages automatically result in open duration (previously called permanent) alimony. However, as this case shows, alimony determinations are not as cut and dry as many people believe.
The key is that whether or not permanent alimony is warranted depends upon a court’s evaluation of the enumerated factors. In the present case, the Court considered the fact that (a) the Wife’s earnings had only exceeded the Husband’s earnings for the last few years of the marriage and (b) the Wife had limited retirement assets and (c) as the Wife was older than the Husband, she only had seven years until she reached retirement age.
What is clear from this decision is that determining an appropriate alimony award, including the appropriate length of alimony, cannot be done by some rote formula and that an experienced family law attorney who understands the need to look deeper into the particular facts of each case is critical.
If you have questions about alimony, contact an experienced family law attorney today.