When Utah couples divorce, a court may order one spouse to provide the other with financial support, called “alimony.” Alimony isn’t ordered in every case, and alimony isn’t awarded only to women. A judge will consider your family’s unique circumstances when deciding whether alimony is appropriate in your case.
In most divorce cases, alimony won’t last forever, and a spouse’s remarriage or cohabitation can affect your alimony award in Utah. If after reading this article you have additional questions about remarriage and alimony in Utah, consult a local family law attorney for advice.
A Utah judge may order one spouse to pay alimony to the other spouse, during or following a divorce. When deciding whether an alimony award is appropriate in your case, a judge will determine whether the spouse seeking alimony (called the “recipient spouse”) has a demonstrated financial need and the other spouse has the ability to pay. A Utah judge will also examine the following factors to determine how much alimony should be awarded in your case:
In Utah, longer marriages give rise to stronger cases for awarding alimony. See Ut. Code § 30-3-5 (2020). A judge may award alimony as temporary support during a divorce, as a single lump-sum payment, or regular monthly alimony payments that continue for the same amount of time as the couple was married. If you would like to learn more about Utah alimony awards, see our article Understanding and Calculating Alimony in Utah.
Under Utah law, alimony automatically ends when either spouse dies or the recipient spouse remarries. When the recipient spouse remarries, alimony ends automatically and the paying spouse does not need to file a motion or return to court for an order terminating the alimony award. The paying spouse can simply stop making monthly alimony payments on the date the recipient spouse gets remarried.
However, if the paying spouse owed past due alimony at the time the recipient spouse remarries, the paying spouse must still make those payments. In most cases, a judge will require a paying spouse to make the lump-sum alimony payment even if the other spouse has remarried.
Utah law allows courts to modify or end alimony when either spouse has experienced a substantial change in the circumstances since the divorce. Utah courts usually won’t consider the remarriage of the paying spouse to be a “substantial change in circumstances” for the purposes of modifying alimony. However, if the recipient spouse has a significant increase in income and accompanying decrease in financial needs, a judge may reduce or end alimony payments. A judge may also consider the paying spouse’s retirement as a reason to reduce alimony.
If you want to modify or end alimony payments in your Utah case, you should file a motion to modify alimony in your local court clerk’s office. The court will schedule a hearing where both you and your ex-spouse will have to appear. The spouse requesting the change has the burden of proof and you’ll need to bring evidence supporting your request to change or end alimony payments. Alternatively, if you and your ex-spouse agree to modify alimony before the court date, you should put your settlement agreement in writing, sign it, and submit it to the court for approval.
In Utah, the obligation to continue paying alimony ends when the supported spouse begins cohabiting with a romantic partner, but the termination isn’t automatic. “Cohabitation” occurs when two individuals live together in a romantic relationship while not married. Although cohabitation terminates alimony in Utah, a spouse can’t simply stop paying alimony until the court has made a determination that the recipient spouse is cohabitating—which means the paying spouse will need to go back to court and ask a judge for an order to stop payments.
If you're paying alimony, and your ex-spouse begins living with another person in a romantic relationship, you’ll need to file a motion to terminate alimony. You’ll also need to gather evidence of your ex-spouse’s cohabitation to show the court. For example, you might submit photographs of cars on the driveway, notes, or other proof that your ex is living with a romantic partner and that they spend most nights together at the same residence. If the judge agrees that your ex-spouse is cohabitating, the court may end alimony retroactively to the date you filed your motion.
If you have additional questions about remarriage and alimony, contact a Utah family law attorney for help.