In both New York and New Jersey, a former spouse who is receiving alimony will generally have no right to receive further alimony after remarrying. The divorce lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman note that there are exceptions to this general rule and recommend taking a closer look at the interplay between alimony payments and a supported spouse’s remarriage.
The purpose of alimony is to ease the financial burden of a divorce on the spouse with lower earning power.
Contrary to some depictions of alimony in popular culture, the purpose of alimony is not to permanently penalize the party that is obligated to pay it. Rather, alimony is intended to support the spouse that has a lesser ability to earn income after a divorce until that spouse can fully support himself or herself. Permanent alimony payments (which might continue after a supported spouse remarries) will be ordered only when the supported spouse has few or no opportunities to generate that support.
Divorced individuals can petition to modify an alimony order.
Either spouse can petition a divorce court to modify an alimony order, both to increase or decrease alimony payments. These petitions are most frequently based on changing circumstances, for example, when the paying spouse’s earning power is adversely limited by unforeseen events. Alimony modifications will affect only future payments.
A supported spouse who cohabitates with a new partner might lose alimony payments.
If a supported spouse enters into a romantic relationship in which the new partner provides financial support and shared housing without marrying that partner, the paying spouse can petition a divorce court to reduce or eliminate alimony payment obligations. In both New York and New Jersey, the paying spouse bears the burden of proving that the supported spouse is receiving financial and other support from the new partner. Courts have set a relatively high bar for termination of alimony as a result of cohabitation, and the success of a request for termination of alimony will be a function of the facts of each specific case.
Remarriage will not end certain types of alimony.
A supported spouse’s remarriage will not end that spouse’s right to receive alimony payments that are designated as lump-sum or rehabilitative. In most cases, these types of alimony are typically structured as a temporary series of payments that will end of their own accord after a certain period of time.
Once alimony obligations end, they will not be restarted.
If a supported spouse’s new partner passes away or the new marriage is later annulled, that spouse will not have an opportunity to reinitiate terminated alimony payments from the original paying spouse. Regardless of its outcome, the intervening marriage creates a full and final stoppage of alimony payments.
A paying spouse can recover alimony payments that are made after a supporting spouse remarries.
If a paying spouse is unaware of a supported spouse’s remarriage and continues to pay alimony, that spouse can file a petition to recover all alimony payments that were made subsequent to the date of the new marriage. Payments made prior to that date will not be recoverable.
Alimony and spousal support disputes are avoidable.
In all cases, even in the most hotly-contested divorce proceedings, prospective alimony and spousal support disputes can and should be addressed in the final divorce and alimony decree. That decree can specify, for example, whether and to what extent alimony payments will continue after a supported spouse remarries, and a divorce court will defer to the decisions in that decree over the general rule that alimony payments will end after a supported spouse remarries.
An experienced divorce attorney should draft and negotiate an alimony agreement that anticipates future issues and that establishes a structure to address them.
Call KGG’s Alimony and Spousal Support Attorneys for Answers to your Divorce Questions
At Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, we understand the emotional turmoil that often accompanies divorce and spousal support negotiations. We strive to craft alimony agreements that are fair to both parties and that address all of the significant future matters that might alter the conditions upon which a spousal support agreement is based. When a spouse petitions to amend an alimony and spousal support order, we work to modify the agreement in ways that are fair and equitable to both parties and their dependents.
Please call our offices to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. We will give your case the full personal and professional attention that we provide for all of our divorce clients.