When a marriage is of a short (or relatively short) duration, parties often agree to a term of alimony limited to a specific number of years (such as five years). After that term, alimony terminates. While the New Jersey statute that permits Limited Duration Alimony permits the Court to lengthen that term of alimony under “unusual circumstances”, the Courts have made it clear that “unusual circumstances” is a very difficult roadblock to bypass.
In fact, the appellate court recently (November 2009) reiterated in a published decision that lengthening the duration of alimony is a more difficult goal to achieve than is modifying the dollar amount of the alimony payments.
Litigants should keep the above in mind when drafting a Settlement Agreement. Often, settlements are finally reached after a flurry of last minute negotiations. The spouse receiving alimony must keep in mind the above; that the “term” will likely be the “term”, with no extensions.