When you are ordered to pay alimony by the family court, it is your responsibility to make the payments as agreed. However, if your former spouse remarries, it is likely that you will not have to continue paying. But when you can stop paying depends largely on your divorce decree and state laws. Before stopping payments, here is what you need to know.
Can You Automatically Stop Paying?
Whether or not you can simply stop writing checks to your ex depends on your state's laws. In some states, such as Missouri, your obligation to pay your spouse ends the moment he or she remarries. Even if there is nothing in your divorce decree declaring this, your obligation is over.
However, in some states there are no laws that automatically terminates alimony after a spouse remarries. If your divorce decree does not specifically state that you can stop the payments as soon as your spouse remarries, you have to continue to make payments until a modification is made.
What Can You Do?
If your ex is willing to forgo pursuing the payments, you can obtain a written agreement from him or her and file it with the court. Once it is accepted by the court, you can stop paying.
In the event that your former spouse is unwilling to sign an agreement, you need to file a petition in court to modify your divorce decree. Since your ex is unwilling to cooperate, a court hearing will be scheduled and a judge will review the case.
Although your reasoning for why the payments should be discontinued is sound, it is important that you are prepared to argue your case in court. It is possible that your ex might ask for the payments to continue for a period of time or to have the amount reduced while maintaining support.
What If Your Ex Is Cohabitating?
If your spouse is cohabitating with another person for a considerable period of time and has not married, it might still be possible to have your alimony support order modified.
In some states, the laws allow for a change to alimony if the recipient is living with another person and behaving in a manner that married couples do. It is up to you to prove the nature of your ex's relationship with his or her new partner.
You have to convince the court that the relationship is significant enough that you should not have to pay alimony. You can hire an investigator, get witnesses, and even use social media to prove your case.
The best way to fight for an alimony modification is to work with a divorce attorney in your area. He or she knows the state's laws and can help you build your case.