Typically a spousal support or alimony award in California terminates upon the remarriage of the ex-spouse receiving support. This is the most common spousal support agreement between couples and the court order. However, there are situations where spousal support continues into an ex-spouse’s remarriage and others where support terminates well before a legal remarriage occurs.
The following briefly explains California’s spousal support laws and the effect remarriage has on spousal support payments. For detailed information or advice regarding a specific set of facts, seek the advice of an experienced Los Angeles spousal support attorney.
Alimony in California
Alimony in California is usually a monthly payment one spouse starts paying to the other upon entry of the divorce order. Most alimony payments are meant to help a lesser earning or unemployed spouse maintain a certain standard of living until they gain the skills or education necessary to become self-supporting.
Spousal support awards are based on the payor spouse’s ability to pay and the payee spouse’s need for support. Payments may be short-term, long-term, or even made in a lump sum.
An alimony amount and term can be negotiated and agreed upon between the spouses or ordered by the court. Some agreements are part of a couple’s prenuptial agreement.
Termination of Spousal Support Upon Remarriage
Remarriage terminates most spousal support agreements and court orders without action on behalf of the paying ex-spouse or the court. It is the responsibility of the ex-spouse receiving support to notify the other about the remarriage. Failure to do so can result in a court order to refund any excessive alimony payments.
Remarriage does not end spousal support if there is a past due balance. Nor does it terminate support for couples who agreed otherwise and waived the remarriage provision in their divorce.
Any lump-sum spousal support payments made with property transfers are not impacted by remarriage.
Cohabitation Without Remarriage
Spousal support can be terminated for a substantial change in circumstances. One such change that can support a new alimony order is cohabitation by the ex-spouse receiving support.
An ex-spouse paying support can file a motion with the court requesting a modification or termination of alimony payments due to cohabitation. However, cohabitation typically requires an intimate or personal relationship beyond a roommate.
The paying spouse will need to include evidence in their termination petition to support their position.
This may include:
- The spousal support order
- Affidavits from family or friends about the cohabitation
- Evidence of the ex-spouse’s new address
- Communication from the ex-spouse regarding cohabitation
It is then the responsibility of the ex-spouse receiving spousal support to prove that any payments should continue.
At a hearing regarding cohabitation, the court will not consider the cohabitant’s income. However, all new financial circumstances of the ex-spouse receiving support will be reviewed.
If the court orders a spousal support termination or modification, the payor spouse can request reimbursement for any overage paid during cohabitation. If the ex-spouse receiving support concealed their cohabitation to continue spousal support, the court could order that spouse repay the payor spouse as well.
Contact an Experienced California Alimony Attorney Today
If you would like to consult an experienced family law attorney about remarriage and alimony, call Fernandez & Karney. Staying legally informed and aware of your options will keep you from costly legal mistakes in the future.
Reach out to Fernandez & Karney to schedule your consultation with a family law professional.