Gnall v. Gnall
In Gnall v Gnall, decided on July 28, 2015, the NJ Supreme Court decided that a trial judge must analyze all of the statutory factors when deciding what type of alimony (unlimited durational; limited duration; rehabilitative; or reimbursement alimony) and for how long alimony should be paid to a dependent spouse. The decision instructs trial judges very clearly on their obligations in this regard. Before this decision, there was always a debate as to whether a marriage of a certain length would justify what most attorneys and judges then called permanent alimony, and the length of the marriage often was deemed a factor that overrode the other factors in the alimony statute.
However, with the revision to the alimony statute that went into effect in September, 2014, a judge must also determine in what cases a marriage of less than twenty years might justify unlimited durational alimony if it is requested, because the revised statute has a presumptive limit on the term of alimony to no more than the amount of years that the parties were married. So, for example, if the parties are married for 15 years, there is a presumption that the court should not award alimony to the dependent spouse of more than 15 years, although the court can award alimony for less than 15 years. But this presumption can be rebutted, and the court will be required to analyze all of the factors in the statute in order to make a decision on the length as well as the amount of alimony.
The Gnall decision can be found here: http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/