Interviewer: What is the delineation between a long-term marriage and a short-term marriage?
Long-Term Marriage and New Jersey’s Lifetime Alimony Statute
Tanya: That is also a sort of nebulous concept in current times. If you look at the age of the parties who got married when they’re 20 and they were divorced when they’re 30, should one party be responsible for lifetime alimony? Of course not, that’s ridiculous.
The problem is that there are judges that would award alimony permanently and there are judges that would not, given that set of circumstances. That’s a situation where a case becomes protracted because the wife’s lawyer might and I’m being sexist here, say, “Listen, it’s a 15 year marriage, it’s a long-term marriage. You put aside your career to raise the children and so on.” That might be true but the wife is only 40 years old and could easily work for 20 years.
How Fair Is the Current Alimony Statute?
In my opinion, it would be much better if there was a statue that said unless you’re disabled, you receive 50% of the number of years of the marriage. So if you are married for 30 years, you receive 15 years of alimony.
Because if you’re married, truthfully, for 30 years and you get 15 years of alimony you’re getting alimony until you’re 65 anyways and that is the retirement age. Unfortunately, that statute has not been created yet. So that’s why we have to keep arguing.
Interviewer: I see why you’re saying judges’ decisions can go in either direction because there are just so many variables and arguments to be made.
Tanya: Correct. And everybody’s circumstances are slightly different. For example, what if somebody has a debilitating illness? Let’s just say a person has M.S., but currently they’re functional.
Should that be a factor in determining alimony? Conversely, how about somebody who has an alcohol problem, but kept his or her job? Do you allow for that? Do you not allow?