Alimony: How long do I have to pay?

In New Jersey identifies four types of alimony (spousal support) that supporting spouses may be obligated to pay if the facts of the case warrant alimony and/or spousal support at all. These are open durational alimony (formerly known as “permanent” alimony), limited duration alimony, rehabilitative alimony, and reimbursement alimony. Therefore, if the facts of any divorce case so warrant, a court in New Jersey is authorized to establish or direct payment of any of these types of alimony or they can order a combination of types of alimony.

As to the specific types, they are defined as follows:

  1. Open Duration Alimony: This is financial support awarded in longer term marriages and up until the 2013 statutory amendments was referred to as “permanent” alimony.
  2. Limited Duration Alimony: Limited duration alimony is similar to open durational alimony by way of its application however it is utilized for marriages of a shorter term. Therefore, it is generally used where an economic need for alimony has been established (as well as an economic ability to pay the requested or needed alimony) but where the marriage was a shorter duration which would render permanent alimony unfair or inequitable.
  3. Rehabilitative Alimony: This type of alimony is utilized in marriages wherein it would be appropriate to assist the dependent spouse on re-enterin the work world or the time needed to get the educational, experience or training necessary to return to the workforce.
  4. Reimbursement Alimony:   Reimbursement alimony is usually requested and/or ordered in matters where one party made financial contributions or financially supported the other spouse during their education or professional training and placed that spouse in a position to earn a greater income.

As stated above, the Court’s can order one of the above types of alimony and/or could combine an alimony award, such as ordering rehabilitative alimony for the first few years of an alimony award and converting the remaining years to an award of limited duration alimony. For example, the Court may Order a paying spouse to pay more alimony for the first few years of the alimony term so as to enable a supported spouse to return to school and obtain the degree they need to resume full-time meaningful employment and then reduce the amount of their support based upon the income one should earn upon completion of that degree and/or training.

There are numerous other examples of combination alimony that can be awarded and no two cases are ever the same. Each case should be considered on the factual circumstances surrounding that case and of course by applying the statutory factors pertaining to awards of alimony, including but not limited to the ability of the parties to pay support, the actual need for financial support, the parties’ respective ages, the marital lifestyle, their roles during the marriage both as to financial contributions and non-monetary contributions, and of course the length of the marriage.


The difference in outcome in the cases reported by the New Jersey courts reflects that the type of alimony, amount and duration of alimony all require analyzing the specific facts and circumstances of each individual case. If you are going through a divorce and alimony is an issue, Kelli M. Martone, Esq. of the Martone Law Group, LLC has the experience necessary to provide you with advice and guidance through this very fact sensitive and significant part of many divorces. Call us today at 856-617-6700 to schedule your consultation today.