The duration of alimony not only affects your financial planning, but your sense of financial security as well. After all, whether you’re the one paying alimony or the once that receives it, those payments will affect your expenses, income, and standard of living.
How Long Does Alimony Last in Short Marriages?
When deciding issues of divorce, the differences between a short and long marriage aren’t always black and white. There is no real strict line that divides the two. In fact, in some cases a marriage under 10 years may be considered a long-term marriage, while a marriage over 10 years may be treated like a short marriage. Because of these grey areas, let’s keep this article simple and look at a marriage of five-years.
Typically, in short-term marriages alimony lasts for one half the duration of the entire marriage. So, when considering a five-year marriage, alimony should last about 2 1/2 years.
However, it is vital to remember that that rule does not always apply. Will alimony for every five-year marriage last 2 1/2 years? No. The length of your marriage is only one consideration when determining the duration of alimony.
How Long Does Alimony Last for Marriages Over 10 Years?
For the following example, let’s just assume that you have a 20 year marriage, and that it will be treated as a long-term one.
In most cases of the example given above, alimony will last without any specific end date. Furthermore, the court will order alimony payments until either spouse dies, the spouse who receives the payments remarries, or the court orders the payments to stop. Basically, whichever comes first.
The above is what is known as a “further order of the court”. That specific phrase keeps alimony payments continuing, however, there is a also a lot of confusion surrounding it. When such an order is given, spouses assume that the order will never change. But, that is not true. Unless both spouses agree to an order of alimony that is unmodifiable, your alimony order is modifiable. Even in a long-term marriage, like 20 years in our above example, alimony can be modified on a future date.
A modification of alimony can be a termination of alimony, downward modification, or even an upward modification in certain situations.
Can You Agree to End Alimony in a Long-Term Marriage?
Yes, of course. Both you and your spouse can agree to have the court terminate alimony payments in a long-term marriage. The same also goes for short-term marriages. You and your spouse have the right and power to make it stop.
What If Neither Spouse Wants Alimony Right Now?
Sometimes, spouses may agree to a zero alimony order, also known as a “reserved” alimony order. This type of order means that while neither spouse wants alimony now, they also don’t want to terminate alimony altogether. The most common situation for such an order is when both spouses make about the same income and neither has the ability or need to pay the other alimony.
Since you cannot predict the future, it is never advisable to outright terminate alimony. A loss of job, serious illness, or other factors may lead to a need for alimony. Life is never predictable.