Lifetime or permanent alimony, actually can happen regardless of the length of the marriage, however it is most likely to be awarded in a cases where a marriage is of 17 years or longer duration under the statutes. There are some exceptions however, a lot of the times if one spouse is disabled this can change things. There was one case where the couple was only married 5 years, but during the marriage, one spouse incurred a lifetime debilitating illness, and in that case, the court felt the exception in that case was carved out to award permanent alimony. In a typical case, the increasing likelihood of permanent alimony goes up the longer the marriage has been.