My ex wife is getting remarried in the next few weeks. How do I go about making certain my maintenance payments to her are terminated? I won’t have to pay alimony once she’s married, right?
Traditional spousal support (alimony) payments are modifiable (but not necessarily subject to termination) when the support recipient remarries. This is because support is intended to help the recipient maintain a standard of living that, when remarried, is easier to obtain. See, e.g., Ackerman v Ackerman, 163 Mich App 796; 414 NW2d 919 (1987). Other forms of spousal support, however, are non-modifiable, even when the recipient remarries. These include lump sum or alimony in gross, property settlement payments the recipient merely uses for support, and permanent, non-modifiable support.
The answer for you depends on what your support order states. If your order was for non-modifiable spousal support, in most states you cannot ask to reduce the support amount now. In most states, however, you also must have agreed to non-modifiable support and released your rights to request a modification later. Read your order carefully to determine whether you did. If your order is for modifiable support, then you may have an argument to reduce the support amount depending on the myriad facts in your case. One important fact is remarriage. Cohabitation may be another, and you may be able to use it now. In Michigan, as in most states, the court may reduce spousal support (or even terminate it) if the support recipient is in a cohabitating relationship. A cohabitating relationship is one marked with the signs of serious commitment akin to marriage – i.e., joint purchases, joint savings, joint debts, a financial dependence on each other, etc.
If your support obligation is modifiable, then you should file a motion with your court. In some courts, you may request a “declaratory order” now that states when the support will terminate in the future, rather than wait for your ex-spouse to remarry before filing the motion. The conditions for modification vary by state, and the likely success varies by the facts and the temperament of the judge deciding your motion. Keep in mind that I am a Michigan attorney and cannot give you detailed advice about the laws in Kansas. You should not rely on this answer as establishing an attorney-client relationship, and you should contact an attorney in your area immediately for additional information and representation. Cordell & Cordell, P.C. does have offices in Overland Park, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.
Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell P.C. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims. Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.