The alimony statute changed with the passage of the Alimony Reform Act and the new statute eliminated permanent spousal support awards. Instead, these have been replaced with the option of alimony awards that are of “open duration.” That means that they have no predetermined ending date.
Open duration awards are generally reserved for long-term marriages. In any event, the length of payments now cannot exceed the length of the marriage unless a judge decides that there are what we call “exceptional circumstances.” For example, if you are married for seven years, you are not obligated to pay more than seven years of support.
Also, ex-spouses making payments can now apply to have payments end or be modified when they reach the federal retirement age of 67, barring extenuating circumstances. It’s also important for men to realize that alimony laws are not written for women or men. They are gender neutral. In today’s changing economic landscape, a man may be the payor or even the recipient of support.
Bari Zell Weinberger is the owner and managing partner of Weinberger Law Group in New Jersey. She is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney.