For marriages of long duration (lasting 10 years or more), the spousal support obligation is “indefinite.” If your judgment does not specify a termination date for alimony, it may be that you will be paying support until one of the statutory terminating events occurs. Rather than sit around hoping the supported spouse will do something rash like remarry, in certain circumstances it is possible to request that the court terminate spousal support. The obligation to pay support is counterbalanced by the supported spouse’s obligation to become self-supporting in a reasonable period of time. This is judged on a case-by-case basis. The theory, of course, is that an able-bodied person should earn his or her own living and not be forever dependent on his or her former spouse for support.
Judgments these days include something called a “Gavron” warning, which admonishes the supported spouse that he or she should seek to become self-supporting within a reasonable amount of time following the divorce. If the supported spouse does not do so, then the supporting spouse (the payor) may request the court terminate or reduce the spousal support award. Obviously, in marriages of long duration, such a request is not well taken shortly after the divorce. However, for those who have been paying for a number of years with the supported spouse never even trying to become self-supporting, there is a great potential for the court to “punish” the supported spouse for failing to fulfill his or her obligation to “get off the dole.” If you have been paying spousal support for a number of years and your former spouse refuses to take the necessary steps to become self-supporting, call our office to discuss how you can request the court terminate or lower your spousal support obligation.