Will My Alimony Obligation Last Forever?

September 11, 2023 | By Allison J. Burkhardt

In the State of New Jersey, a dependent spouse who primarily relied upon the other spouse’s income to maintain the marital standard of living may be entitled to alimony as a part of an overall resolution of their divorce matter. While there are different kinds of alimony in New Jersey, the most common are Limited Duration Alimony or Open Durational Alimony (previously referred to as “permanent alimony”), which is available for spouses who have been married for twenty or more years. Although settlement negotiations during divorce proceedings focus on the amount of alimony one spouse may pay to the other, one may wonder if there are circumstances after a divorce has been finalized that would modify or terminate the agreed-upon alimony obligation.

An alimony obligation is subject to automatic termination upon the first of one of the three following circumstances:

  • remarriage of the spouse receiving alimony;
  • the death of the spouse receiving alimony; or
  • the death of the spouse paying alimony. 

Limited Duration Alimony automatically terminates at the end of the agreed-upon term. However, an alimony obligation is also subject to review in the event either party experiences a substantial change of circumstances. Most commonly, the spouse providing alimony may seek a review and modification of support if their income decreases impacting their ability to provide support. A spouse is also now permitted to seek a termination and/or modification of alimony due to their retirement. If there is an Open Durational Alimony obligation, which does not have a defined term, retirement can be one of the primary reasons for alimony review.   

If a spouse is successful in proving a substantial change of circumstances, the Court looks not only to the supporting spouse’s financial circumstances but also the financial circumstances of the supported spouse. In any request to review an alimony obligation, the supporting spouse is required by the New Jersey Rule of Courts to provide a full and complete updated Case Information Statement. A supported spouse may also be required to provide an updated Case Information Statement if the supporting spouse has met their initial burden of showing a substantial change in financial circumstances. Only after a review of the parties’ respective financial circumstances will a court be able to determine if a termination or modification of support is warranted.

A supporting spouse seeking a modification or termination of their alimony obligation will often be required to file a Post-Judgment motion with the Court. If you believe you have experienced a substantial change of circumstances that warrants a review of your support obligation, or your spouse has requested a review of their support obligation to you, please contact one of our attorneys and we will be happy to assist. 

The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice, is not a substitute for legal counsel, and should not be relied on as such. For legal advice or answers to specific questions, please contact one of our attorneys.

About the Authors

Allison J. Burkhardt


Allison concentrates her practice on all aspects of family law including divorce, child and spousal support, domestic abuse, paternity, and adoptions in the greater Mount Laurel, NJ area. As an attorney practicing...

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