Open Duration Alimony: Understanding NJ’s 2014 Change to Permanent Alimony Laws

Hackensack NJ Alimony and Alimony Modification AttorneysFor many years prior to 2014, people receiving “permanent alimony” payments would often be shocked to learn that they weren’t actually “permanent”, and that this type of alimony was still subject to alimony modifications and termination given certain conditions were met. This is why New Jersey’s 2014 Alimony Reform Act changed the name of “permanent alimony” to that of “open duration alimony”, and also changed how and when this type of alimony would actually be awarded during divorces across the state.

In today’s article, we will discuss what exactly “open duration alimony” is, when it can be awarded during divorce, and when it can be modified or terminated.

Ridgewood Alimony Lawyers Answer “What Is Open Duration Alimony?”

Open duration alimony, like permanent alimony before it, is a type of alimony which is awarded until such time that the dependent party remarries, or either party involved in the open duration alimony agreement passes away.

Unlike permanent alimony however, open duration alimony can now only be awarded when the divorcing couple’s marriage lasted for at least 20 years. For marriages with a shorter duration than this 20 year limit, “limited duration alimony” will only be awarded for a period equal to the length of the marriage. So if a marriage lasted for 5 years, open duration alimony will not be awarded, and limited duration alimony can only be awarded for a maximum of 5 years.

Modifying an Open Duration Alimony Agreement in Morris County, NJ

As previously mentioned, part of the reason for the change in name from permanent alimony to open duration alimony was the confusion that commonly resulted over the use of the word “permanent”. Although the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines permanent as “continuing or enduring without fundamental or marked change”, this was never true of permanent alimony as it was subject to modification and termination much like any other type of alimony.

So although the name has changed, open duration alimony can still be modified when circumstances change substantially for either party, including (but not limited to) situations where:

  • Either party loses their job
  • Either party secures a higher paying job
  • Either party suffers from a serious illness or injury
  • The dependent party enters into a “marital style” relationship with another adult, i.e. cohabitation
  • The living expenses for either party change substantially
  • Either party loses their home

While these are some of the most commonly cited changed circumstances which have resulted in modifications to existing alimony agreements, each modification request is decided on a case-by-case basis. For this reason, if you are requesting or facing a request for an alimony modification, it is important that you work with an experienced Morris County alimony attorney in order to better understand your options and legal situation, and have your unique needs and interests properly represented to the courts.

Existing Permanent Alimony Agreements, Paramus Spousal Support Lawyers

So while the 2014 Alimony Reform Act has changed much about “permanent alimony”, both its name and when it can be awarded, these changes do not apply retroactively to any permanent alimony agreements which existed before 2014.

This means that although you may be paying or receiving permanent alimony, it is important that you understand how inaccurate the word “permanent” is in your situation, as your permanent alimony agreement will be subject to modification and termination in many different circumstances.

Contact Our Hackensack Alimony and Alimony Modification Attorneys Today

At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our attorneys have extensive experience securing fair and reasonable alimony agreements for our clients during divorce, and representing clients during alimony modification requests of all kinds in towns across New Jersey and Bergen County, including Ridgewood, Hackensack, Paramus, Teaneck, and Fort Lee.

By practicing exclusively family and divorce law, our firm can focus on the issues most important to you and your family, and providing you with the highly knowledgeable, effective, and attentive legal counsel that you need and deserve in any family law matter.

To speak with our legal team today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your divorce, your alimony agreement, or any kind of alimony modification matter, please contact us online, or through our Hackensack, NJ office at (201) 397-1750.

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