Alimony is Not Based on the Length of Marriage Alone

Posted by on Jul 30, 2015 in Alimony & Child Support, Blog | Comments Off on Alimony is Not Based on the Length of Marriage Alone

Alimony is Not Based on the Length of Marriage Alone

Alimony is Not Based on the Length of Marriage Alone

The New Jersey Supreme Court released a unanimous decision in the case of Gnall v. Gnall reaffirming the notion that all statutory factors are to be considered when establishing alimony awards. This was not an unexpected result.

The parties in this matter were married for almost fifteen years when Ms. Gnall filed a complaint for divorce. In addressing Ms. Gnall’s request for alimony, the trial judge, after considering all of the statutory factors, determined that limited duration alimony was appropriate rather than what was then called permanent alimony (now called open duration alimony). Ms. Gnall appealed the trial court’s decision arguing, among other things, that she was entitled to permanent alimony based upon the length of her marriage.

The Appellate Division accepted Ms. Gnall’s argument, reversed, and sent the case back to the trial court for an evaluation of permanent alimony based upon the fact that the parties had been married for fifteen years. Mr. Gnall then petitioned the New Jersey Supreme Court. In addition to the named parties, three interest groups also participated in this case as amicus curiae ("friend-of the-court"): the New Jersey State Bar Association, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and the Matrimonial Lawyers Alliance.

In essence, the Supreme Court rejected the adoption of a per se rule whereby a certain marriage length, on its own, would establish a certain type of alimony. Instead, courts are to consider and weigh all of the statutory factors against the relevant facts of each case. More to the point, this case puts to rest the suggestion that there is a minimum magic number of years whereby a case would automatically be considered open duration regardless of the other statutory factors.

All of the attorneys at Domers & Bonamassa are well versed and have years of experience addressing family law issues, no matter how complicated. Contact us today at (856) 596-2888 for a private consultation. We appear in the following counties: Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem, Mercer, Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May. Our practice areas include: divorce, custody, parenting time, child support, alimony, domestic violence, college expenses, equitable distribution, name changes, step parent adoptions, paternity issues, child abuse and neglect, prenuptial agreements, mediation and arbitration.

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