One element of the Alimony Reform Bill provides that alimony shall not, except in exceptional circumstances, exceed the length of the marriage or civil union if you are married less than 20 years. For example, if you are married 10 years the court will not award alimony for longer than 10 years. However, if a spouse or partner has a chronic debilitating illness, unusual health condition or other exceptional circumstance the court may extend the alimony term beyond the number of years married.
Another change in the law is the removal from the Statute of the term “Permanent alimony.” While this definition has been deleted from the statute we now have “open durational alimony.” This means that the term may be left open-ended if the marriage is 20 years or longer in duration.
The new Bill also provides that when the spouse who is paying alimony reaches full retirement age, currently defined as age 67, there will exist a presumption that alimony will terminate. Again, certain extenuating circumstances spelled out in the new Bill will permit the Court to extend the alimony term beyond retirement.
The Bill also states that alimony should take into consideration the ability of both parties to maintain a standard of living reasonably comparable to the standard of living established in the marriage or civil union to which both parties are entitled, with neither party having a greater entitlement. This language emphasizes that the income and expenses of both parties are to be taken into consideration when making an alimony award.
Overall, the Bill is not dramatically different than our current Statute but does provide more clarity to the parties and their attorneys regarding the alimony term and amount.