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Termination of alimony obligations

On Behalf of | Feb 29, 2024 | Divorce

During a divorce, the court may order alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, to be paid by one spouse to the other. Spouses may also decide to include spousal support expectations to a negotiated divorce agreement. The traditional purpose of alimony is to help the lower-earning spouse maintain a similar standard of living post-divorce as they had during the marriage, although it can also serve as a broader property division strategy.

In the event of a litigated case, the court will consider various factors when determining the amount and duration of alimony, including the length of the marriage, the financial needs of each spouse, the earning capacity of each spouse and any other relevant circumstances. However, you or your ex-spouse can be disqualified from alimony under any of several grounds.

Grounds for alimony termination

The court may terminate alimony payments under certain circumstances, including:

  • Remarriage: If your ex-spouse remarries, alimony payments are automatically terminated. This is because the assumption is that the financial support that they required from you during the marriage is now being provided by their new spouse. However, this will depend on whether the marriage ceremony is legally binding.
  • Cohabitation: In the event your ex-spouse starts cohabiting with an individual not related to them by blood or law, the court may also terminate alimony payments. Cohabitation implies a shared living arrangement akin to marriage, where the couple shares expenses and lives together as if they were married. If your ex-spouse is in such a situation, it suggests that they have financial support from their cohabiting partner, thus negating the need for continued alimony from you.
  • Petition: If you demonstrate to the court circumstances that will affect your ability to pay alimony, such as a significant decrease in income, unexpected medical expenses or any other financial hardship that makes it impractical for you to continue paying alimony at the current rate, the court may consider modifying or even terminating alimony payments. However, you would need to provide evidence and convince the court of the validity of your claims.

Alimony payments may also be terminated upon mutual agreement. If you feel that you should not be required to continue paying alimony to your ex-spouse, seeking legal guidance can help you understand your rights and options for potentially terminating or modifying the alimony payments.