Atwell v. Atwell, Appellate Division, Docket No. A-4406-14T1 (December 22, 2016)

In Atwell v. Atwell, the Appellate Division addressed the trial court’s obligation to consider pendente lite support paid by an obligor spouse in awarding limited duration alimony pursuant to the recently revised alimony statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23. Defendant husband appealed the trial judge’s award of five (5) years of limited duration alimony commencing from the entry of the Final Judgment of Divorce where the parties had only been married for six (6) years but defendant had already paid four (4) years of pendente lite support. Thus, defendant argued, plaintiff wife was effectively awarded nine (9) years of alimony on a six (6) year marriage in violation of the statute’s directive that for marriages of less than twenty (20) years, the term of alimony not exceed the length of the marriage itself. While concluding that the trial judge had indeed considered the length of the marriage and defendant’s payment of pendente lite support in making the award as well as various equitable factors, the Appellate Division found that it was improper for the trial court to extend the term of alimony for five (5) years from the entry of final judgment and remanded for further proceedings consistent with this determination.

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