When a marriage is ending, how long does alimony last is a common question from partners. Alimony could last a few months or a few decades. This largely depending on the type of spousal support the judge awards, as well as the success of (or failure of) a motion to modify the amount and/or duration of payments.
The state’s philosophy comes into play as well. In blue states, like Connecticut, spousal support balances the post-divorce standard of living. Long-term spousal support awards are common in such places.
In red states, like Utah, spousal support is a means to an end. When obligees (people receiving alimony) get on their feet, spousal support payments typically end. Before continuing, read what is alimony if new to the subject.
Types of Spousal Support
Depending on the facts of the case, such as the obligee’s economic need and the obligor’s (person paying support) ability to pay, most judges award one or more types of spousal support, as follows:
- Temporary: Divorce is expensive. Divorce-related expenses, such as rental property security deposits, are expensive as well. These spousal support payments terminate when the judge closes the case.
- Rehabilitative: This kind of alimony usually lasts between one and three years. The payments enable obligees to finish college degrees and take other steps toward economic self-sufficiency.
- Long Term: rules vary in different states, but this kind of alimony usually lasts as long as the marriage lasted (e.g. fifteen years of alimony after a fifteen-year marriage). This income redistribution alimony is very rare in red states.
The exact amount and duration varies by state as well. Some states use fixed amount and duration formulas. Other states give judges discretion in this area, based on factors like the length of the marriage and noneconomic contributions to the relationship.
Find out what states don’t enforce alimony.
Does a Motion to Modify Affect How Long Does Alimony Last?
It might. Judges use a financial snapshot to award or deny alimony. If the picture changes, that ruling might change.
Financial circumstances change. If the obligor makes les money and/or the obligee makes more money, the judge may reconsider the amount and duration of payments. Emotional circumstances change as well. If the obligee remarries, or becomes common-law married, the judge might end alimony payments altogether.
We should also briefly mention premarital agreements. These contracts often include spousal support limits. Judges usually enforce such limits, as long as the ters weren’t blatantly one-sided and neither party defrauded the other one.