Q&A: My Ex Married A Millionaire, Can I Stop Paying Alimony?

$$$Probably, but you might not be able to stop paying right away. If you and your former spouse have an agreement or court order that says alimony ends automatically when your ex remarries, you can stop paying after the wedding. If not, you’ll have to look to your state’s laws for the answer.

In some states, like Missouri, spousal support ends automatically when your ex-spouse remarries. But if you’re in a state that doesn’t follow this rule, such as Michigan or Ohio, you’ll have to continue paying support until you get a new court order that says you can stop – even if your ex marries someone with beaucoup bucks.

Before you race back to court, you might want to try and work it out with your former spouse. If your ex agrees to end support, memorialize the agreement in a writing signed by both of you. You may want to hire an attorney to draft the agreement on your behalf. An experienced family law attorney will know which legal terms need to go into the contract to make it enforceable. Next, you must take your agreement to court so a judge can turn it into an order, which puts an official end to your alimony payments.

If your ex won’t agree, you’ll have to file a motion to modify or terminate support. As long as there is no agreement or court order that prohibits you from requesting an adjustment, a court can modify alimony if there’s a “material or substantial change in circumstances.” Remarriage is typically considered a substantial change in circumstances that proves alimony isn’t necessary anymore. Although laws vary from state to state, courts generally terminate alimony when a supported ex remarries, even if the new spouse isn’t über rich.

What if your ex lives with a wealthy new partner, but they have no plans to marry? In many states, cohabitation (meaning living in a marriage-like relationship) is a material change in circumstances that justifies cutting off support. A cohabiting couple’s combined incomes and shared expenses usually reduce or eliminate the need for alimony. If you can prove your ex has shacked up with someone like Oprah Winfrey or Donald Trump (eeew), you have a good shot at getting off the alimony hook.

To learn more about spousal support in your state, including how courts set the amount, check out Divorcenet.com’s center on alimony.