How Long do You Have to Pay Alimony?

If you are like many asking how long do you have to pay alimony (or spousal support)? then this article is for you. After reading it, you will understand how long spousal support lasts and all there is around it.

Alimony is designed to bridge the gap for those spouses who have relied heavily on their partner’s earnings for sustenance during the marriage, but it is rarely intended to provide complete support indefinitely.

Alimony payments usually only last a certain amount of time. But how long does that take? If you anticipate paying spousal support after your divorce, here’s what you need to know about how long alimony payments often last.

Types of Alimony

The type of alimony is one of the factors that will impact alimony duration. While judges order short spousal support for some type of alimony, they usually order longer alimony for other alimony types.

Here are the various types of alimony and how long you can expect to pay alimony.:

Temporary alimony (also known as interim alimony) is a sort of alimony that is granted throughout the divorce process. The payments will only be made until the divorce is finalized and an alimony agreement can be finalized.

Permanent or long-term alimony is no longer as widespread as it once was. It is granted to one of the partners until they die, retire, or remarry.

Rehabilitative alimony is the most popular type of alimony awarded in today’s divorces. A judge sets the end date, which is determined by how long the judge believes the recipient needs to get their life back to normal.

Reimbursement alimony as the names suggest, this type of alimony is paid in repayment for any investment made in the other spouse’s education or business.

If one spouse worked to pay for their partner’s higher education and the couple divorced soon after, the judge can order reimbursement alimony to the first spouse until the “debt” is cleared.

Bridge-the-Gap alimony is similar to reimbursement alimony in that financial support is provided for a set amount of time so that the recipient spouse can learn a new skill or obtain the education they need to improve their earning potential and become more marketable.

How Long Can You Expect to Pay Alimony?

How Long Can You Expect to Pay Alimony

Judges use many factors to determine the duration of alimony

Factors that will impact alimony duration are also the same factors that determine how courts decide alimony. The judge only has to factor in a few other things and make their order.

Here are factors that will determine how long you can expect to pay alimony:

1. Duration of Marriage

The length of the marriage is a major factor that judges use to determine spousal support duration. Shorter marriages mostly get short alimony duration, while longer marriages mostly get longer alimony too.

Judges don’t want alimony to be seen to reward selfish ex-spouses who entered marriage with the intent to rip off their ex-spouses with a divorce. Due to this, marriages are classified into long-term and short-term.

A Long-term Marriage

In most state statutes, a long-term marriage is a marriage that lasted up to ten years.

A Short-term Marriage

Similarly, a short-term marriage is any marriage that lasted less than 10 years.

2. Employability

The ability of the recipient partner to get sustaining employment also determines how long the alimony will last. Judges mostly order the rehabilitative alimony for the duration the dependent spouse needs to get the training needed and possibly also get a job.

3. Available Assets For The Recipient

If there are enough assets like marital assets awarded to the recipient during the divorce proceedings, then such spouse will be awarded a lesser duration of spousal support.

4. The Age of Each Spouse

Judges also consider the age of the spouses in determining how long alimony should last

5. The Health of Each Spouse

A divorced spouse’s health is another factor that affects the duration of alimony. A terminally ill recipient will most likely receive long alimony to see them through the duration of the illness.

6. The Age of Each Spouse

The age of the paying spouse, as well as the age of the recipient spouse, also contributes to how long you can expect to pay alimony.

Other Information About How Long Spousal Support Lasts

How to to stop or reduce the duration of alimony

There are ways you can use to stop or reduce the duration of spousal support

If you are desirous to know how long does spousal support last, most of the answers can be seen in the frequently asked questions section of our comprehensive article on alimony here. Otherwise, see some below.

Can Alimony be Terminated Early?

Yes, if you are worried you have paid alimony for too long, you can learn how to stop alimony here. After the termination, a Gavron warning is first issued.

What is a Gavron Warning?

A Gavron Warning is a court-issued notice to a supported spouse which indicates that he or she must become self-sufficient soon.

The notice effectively requires the recipient spouse to take all reasonable measures to become self-sufficient within a reasonable time frame.

How to Avoid Paying Alimony

For those interested in how to avoid paying alimony, click on this link to learn how to avoid paying alimony.

Can I Modify a Spousal Support Order?

Yes, after a spousal support order has been issued by a judge or after an agreement has been reached, alimony can still be modified. The process depends on prevailing circumstances which you can learn here.

Can I get alimony after 2 years of marriage?

Yes, but this largely depends on the divorce alimony rules. You can get alimony after 2 years of marriage. But the duration of the alimony you will be awarded depends on many factors which you can find here.


Depending on how much is alimony ordered, you may be wondering how to reduce it if it’s actually heavy on you.

Understanding how long you are expected to pay alimony depends on many factors. While some of these factors center around the type of alimony awarded, others may be the factors considered by the judge.

Deborah Kelly

Deborah Kelly

As a proud single mom who has seen it all, I encourage others by sharing my experiences & curating content on divorce, adoption, child & spousal support. My passion also includes spending quality time with my kids and giving back to my community.

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