There is no definitive answer (also called a “bright-line-rule”) to this often-asked question. The judge must look at each couple, their facts and circumstances, and assess each individually. In a trial handled by this writer before the litigation went to the appellate division (Robertson v. Robertson, 381 N.J. Super. 199, App. Div. 2005), my client, the 39-year-old Ms. Robertson, was awarded permanent alimony after only a 13-year marriage. However, recently, a nine-year marriage was deemed of insufficient length for an award of permanent alimony (Christopher v. Christopher, A-6444-06T3, unpublished).
Does the above mean that 13-year marriages are always prime candidates for permanent alimony and nine-year marriages are never going to result in permanent alimony? Not at all. Your particular facts and circumstances, which may include the idiosyncrasies of the judge making the decision, will make your case unique. Even the date of separation may impact just how long your “marriage” will be viewed.