When a couple divorces in Connecticut, the court may order the spouse in a better financial position to pay the other spouse “alimony,” or payments of financial support. Often, however, the spouse making payments (the “paying spouse”) will want those alimony payments to end if the other spouse (the “supported spouse”) gets remarried or begins living with a new partner.
This article explains how the remarriage or cohabitation of a supported spouse affects alimony in Connecticut. If you have additional questions about remarriage and alimony in Connecticut after reading this article, you should consult a local family law attorney.
Connecticut law defines alimony as payments made by one spouse to the other after divorce, to help one spouse meet his or her reasonable needs. Courts won’t order alimony in every divorce, but are more likely to do so when the couple has been married for a substantial amount of time, and one spouse has much greater earning ability than the other spouse.
The most common type of alimony is periodic alimony, meaning the paying spouse makes payments on a regular basis (usually monthly), for a set period of time or until a certain event occurs. Alimony can also be in the form of a lump sum payment, or a transfer of a specific piece of property from one spouse to the other.
If you would like to know more about alimony in Connecticut, see Understanding and Calculating Alimony in Connecticut.
Unlike in many other states, alimony in Connecticut does not automatically end when the supported spouse remarries. When a supported spouse remarries and the paying spouse wants to end alimony, the paying spouse needs a court order terminating alimony before he or she can stop making payments. The couple can either agree to terminate alimony and file a signed agreement with the court, or the paying spouse can file a motion asking the court to end alimony.
If a divorcing couple wants alimony to end automatically when the supported spouse remarries, they need to specifically state that in their divorce agreement. Most Connecticut divorce agreements that provide for alimony now include a provision that ends alimony when the supported spouse remarries.
When the court decides the terms of a divorce at trial, the judge has the power to order that alimony will not terminate if the supported spouse remarries or cohabits with another person. This typically happens only in extreme circumstances. For example, if a husband and wife have been married 30 years, and the wife never worked during the entire marriage, the court may decide that she deserves to receive alimony even if she remarries.
If a paying spouse wants to end alimony payments to a remarried supported spouse who won’t agree to the termination, the paying spouse should file a motion to terminate alimony immediately. When a supported spouse remarries, the court will presume that he or she is giving up the right to receive alimony unless the supported spouse can prove otherwise. Except in very rare cases, the court will terminate the paying spouse’s obligation to make alimony payments.
Unless a couple’s divorce agreement states otherwise, the court has the power to modify or terminate periodic alimony if there is a substantial change in financial circumstance of either the paying spouse or the supported spouse. For example, if the supported spouse begins making much more money, or the paying spouse’s income decreases significantly, the court may modify or terminate alimony.
The court can change alimony as of the date either spouse files a motion to modify or terminate alimony. The court can’t, however, change alimony retroactively. In other words, a spouse must still pay whatever amounts are owed at the time he or she files a motion to modify alimony.
If the supported spouse’s financial needs decrease because he or she begins living with another person, the court can choose to reduce or eliminate alimony. If you are paying alimony and discover that your ex-spouse’s financial needs are lower due to his or her cohabitation with another person, you will probably want to file a motion to modify or terminate alimony.
In order to end or lower alimony, you’ll need to show that your ex-spouse’s financial needs have decreased as a result of his or her cohabitation with another person. The court will require the supported spouse to detail the new living partner’s contributions to the household expenses.
If a divorcing couple wants alimony to automatically end when the supported spouse begins cohabiting with another person, they can say so specifically in their divorce agreement.
If you have additional questions about remarriage and alimony, contact a Connecticut family law attorney for help.