Durational alimony provides one former spouse with economic assistance for a set time following divorce. It is typically awarded in short-term (less than seven years) and moderate-term (7-17 years) marriages when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate.

The court considers several factors when deciding how long to award durational alimony. 

The Paying Spouse’s Income

The court will consider the payer spouse’s net income when setting an alimony payment amount. This is the amount left over after mandatory deductions (income taxes, social security, health care and compulsory union dues) have been removed from the payor’s gross wages. So, what is durational alimony? Durational alimony is intended to help the spouse who makes less money. These payments help the ex-spouse keep up the lifestyle they had when they were married. This kind of alimony is typically awarded following how long the couple was wed. Unlike permanent alimony, durational maintenance cannot last longer than the length of the marriage in question. There is a rebuttable presumption that a wedding of less than ten years is short-term, a marriage between 10 and 20 years is moderate-term, and a marriage lasting more than 20 years is long-term.

While these factors are significant, the court also considers other relevant information when crafting a reasonable durational alimony award. These could include the recipient’s financial needs, the sacrifices of the paying spouse and other pertinent circumstances. For example, if the paying spouse suffers a financial emergency, they may request a modification to their alimony payments. This can be temporary or permanent, depending on the circumstances and the law in place.

The Recipient’s Income

Durational alimony is designed to provide economic assistance to recipient spouses for a period following a short- or moderate-duration marriage. It is limited to the amount necessary to meet the recipient’s “reasonable needs” and cannot exceed 35% of the difference between the party’s net incomes. The award of durational spousal support terminates upon the remarriage or death of the recipient spouse and may be modified based on a showing of a substantial change in circumstances. Rehabilitative alimony provides financial support to help an ex-spouse learn the skills or obtain the credentials they need to become self-supporting. Like bridge-the-gap alimony, it is designed to be short-term and cannot exceed two years in length. A court can also award permanent alimony in exceptional situations, but this type of alimony is rare. An experienced family law attorney could help you negotiate the terms of a rehabilitative alimony plan in your divorce settlement agreement. The court will look at the supporting spouse’s ability to pay and the recipient’s need before determining whether or not rehabilitative alimony is appropriate.

Exceptional Circumstances

A court may award alimony to either spouse following divorce. However, the payment amount and duration will depend on several factors. One important factor is whether the spouse who seeks spousal support has the skills, education and work history necessary to find employment that pays enough to maintain their previous lifestyle. Before September 2014, courts typically awarded limited-duration alimony (“term alimony”) following short or moderate-length marriages. Since then, open durational alimony has often replaced permanent alimony, generally available after long-term marriages.

A judge may also award bridge-the-gap alimony, which provides funds for a short period to help a dependent spouse transition from marriage to singlehood and become self-sufficient. These types of maintenance are usually not adjustable, but the judge has the discretion to change them in exceptional circumstances. In making these decisions, the judge will consider various facts, including the spouses’ ages and incomes.


Durational alimony lasts for a specific period that the court sets. It is typically awarded in short or moderate-term marriages and is designed to fill the gap between permanent and rehabilitative alimony. To qualify for this type of alimony, you must show that there is a need and that the other party can pay it. Like different types of maintenance, durational alimony can be modified later if circumstances change for the supporting or supported spouse are significantly changed. A support modification can occur if there is an increase or decrease in income for one of the parties if the paying spouse retires before the date established in the durational alimony contract or if the receiving spouse enters into a new relationship. If you want to modify the terms of your alimony agreement, an experienced durational alimony lawyer can help. Attorneys will consider all factors and circumstances of your case and negotiate to achieve the best outcome for you.

By pauline