Alimony for Life: Am I Stuck Supporting Him Forever?

One Question, Three Lawyers

Dear Splitopia:  Does alimony for life really exist?  If I get divorced, am I stuck paying my ex-husband forever? 

Our Panel Says:

Michael Stutman:  The amount of time that you need to pay “alimony” will be determined either by agreement or by a judge.  Alimony can be “non-durational," meaning it goes for life, or it can be for a term of years or months.  The cases with non-durational alimony are becoming more and more of a rarity as everyone is expected to get a job these days.  Alimony will also usually terminate upon the death of either the person paying or the person receiving, and it will usually terminate if the receiving party remarries.


Janice Green:  The only tidbit I'd add is that you might be required (or volunteer) to carry life insurance to fund and secure the alimony upon your death before your alimony obligation terminates. Securing alimony with life insurance is often a major consideration for older divorcing couples who are experiencing an amicable divorce. 


Naomi Cahn:  In addition to what Michael and Janice have noted, note that some states set limits on the duration of alimony based on the length of the marriage, and, unless the parties agree otherwise, alimony will often, under state law, terminate when the recipient remarries or enters a long-term cohabiting relationship.  The length and amount of alimony is something for you to discuss with your future ex.



About our Panel:

Michael Stutman has more than 30 years of family law experience, handling both settlements and court trials. Michael is immediate past president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, New York Chapter. He is also a Fellow of the Academy and serves on its National Board of Governors. Michael is also the author of  Divorce in New York: The Legal Process, Your Rights, and What to Expect (Addicus Books, 2013). You can contact him at:

Janice Green is a family law attorney who has been practicing in Austin, TX, for the past 35 years. She is the author of Divorce After 50: Your Guide to the Unique Legal & Financial Challenges (NOLO, 2013). She is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, a Fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and has been named to Best Lawyers in America, and as a Texas Monthly Super Lawyer. For the past 10 years, she’s focused exclusively on collaborative divorce. Find more at

Naomi Cahn is the Harold H. Greene Professor of Law at The George Washington University Law School. She is the co-author, along with law professor June Carbone, ofMarriage Markets: How Inequality Is Remaking the American Family (Oxford University Press, 2014) and Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture (Oxford University Press, 2010) as well as the leading family law textbook Contemporary Family Law.  Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor and The New YorkerFind more at

And now, some legalese:

The information in this blog post is provided for general purposes only. It may not reflect the current law in your county and doesn’t replace legal advice. This post is not intended to be a substitute for legal counsel. No attorney-client relationship has been established by reading the post.