Remarriage and Alimony

Alimony (also called spousal support or maintenance) refers to financial support payments one spouse makes to the other, either during or after a divorce. When married couples split, there are various types of alimony courts can award, including:

  • temporary alimony, which is paid only while the divorce is pending
  • short-term alimony, which is for short-term marriages and lasts only a few years, and/or
  • rehabilitative support, which is paid until the supported spouse can get back into the workforce and become self-sufficient.

All of these types of spousal support have a clear end date, which is set forth in the couple’s marital settlement agreement and/or the final divorce judgment.

Courts can also grant long-term or permanent alimony, which is reserved for long marriages, where the supported spouse has little chance of becoming self-supporting. Permanent support can continue until the death of either spouse.

But what happens when the spouse receiving alimony remarries or begins cohabiting—living with someone else? If you’re paying support, do you have to continue making alimony payments? Check your settlement agreement and divorce judgment, which may state that alimony ends if your spouse remarries. Or, you may have agreed that your supported spouse's remarriage will not terminate spousal support.

If your judgment contains specific language about how remarriage affects your alimony obligation, you’re likely bound by those terms. If it’s not addressed, then you’ll have to look to your state’s laws.

We’ve created a chart that covers 10 of our most popular states—it explains how a supported spouse’s remarriage or cohabitation affects future alimony payments when the couple’s settlement agreement and/or divorce judgment are both silent on the subject. Note: this chart does not address past-due or lump-sum alimony payments. There are other exceptions to these general rules, so if you have specific questions about remarriage and alimony in your state, consult a local family law attorney.

State

Does remarriage terminate alimony?

Does cohabitation terminate alimony?

Arizona

Yes. The obligation to pay future alimony is terminated when the supported spouse remarries, but paying spouse must file petition or motion for termination of support.

No. Cohabitation is not enough to terminate alimony. Paying spouse must file a motion to modify support and show a substantial and continuing change in circumstances, provide evidence relating to the economic nature of the cohabitation, and prove that ex-spouse's support needs have changed.  

California

Yes. The obligation to pay future alimony is terminated automatically when the supported spouse remarries. The paying spouse doesn't need to file a motion to terminate support.

No. Cohabitation is not enough to terminate alimony. Paying spouse must file a motion to modify support and show a substantial change in ex-spouse’s financial circumstances that justifies reducing support.

Colorado

Yes. The obligation to pay future alimony is terminated when the supported spouse remarries or establishes a civil union.

No. Cohabitation is not enough to terminate alimony. Paying spouse must file a motion to terminate support and show that cohabitation eliminates ex-spouse’s financial need.

Florida

Yes. The obligation to pay future alimony is terminated when the supported spouse remarries. The paying spouse may stop payments immediately, without a court order ending alimony.

No. Cohabitation is not enough to terminate alimony. The paying spouse must file a motion to modify support and show the couple is in fact cohabiting, has a financial relationship, and that a significant change in the supported spouse’s financial circumstances justifies reducing support.

Georgia

Yes. The obligation to pay future alimony ends when the supported spouse remarries. The paying spouse may stop payments immediately—without a court order ending alimony.

No. Cohabitation is not enough to terminate support. The paying spouse must file a motion to terminate support, prove the cohabitation, and show how the supported spouse’s financial situation has improved as a result. If supported spouse’s financial situation hasn’t improved the court may refuse to terminate alimony.

Illinois

Yes. The obligation to pay future alimony ends when the supported spouse remarries. The paying spouse doesn’t have to return to court—payments may simply stop as of the date of the marriage. The payor is entitled to reimbursement for all maintenance paid from that date forward. Supported spouse must notify paying spouse at least 30 days before or within 72 hours of marriage.

Yes. Cohabitation terminates alimony as long as the couple is living together on a continuing and conjugal basis. Paying spouse must file a motion for termination of alimony. The paying spouse can stop paying as of the date a court finds the cohabitation began. The paying spouse is entitled to reimbursement for support paid after that date.

New Jersey

Yes. The obligation to pay future alimony ends as soon as the supported spouse remarries or enters a civil union.

Possibly. Paying spouse must file a motion to terminate support and prove cohabitation. In New Jersey, this requires a long-term, romantic relationship, with a shared residence and finances. If a judge finds cohabitation, alimony may be reduced or terminated. Courts typically reduce an alimony award by the amount of the cohabitant’s monetary contributions.

New York

Yes. The obligation to pay future alimony ends when the supported spouse remarries. If the obligor spouse pays alimony without knowing ex remarried, he or she can ask a court for termination and reimbursement.

Yes, but it’s not automatic. The paying spouse must ask the court to terminate alimony and must prove cohabitation. In New York, cohabitation is where a couple lives together as spouses. If the paying spouse can prove this, the court can terminate alimony.

North Carolina

Yes. The obligation to pay future alimony ends automatically upon the date of the dependent spouse’s remarriage. The paying spouse doesn’t need a court order ending payments.

Yes, but it’s not automatic. Alimony terminates when the dependent spouse cohabits with another person, but the paying spouse must file a motion to terminate support and prove the cohabitation. In North Carolina, cohabitation is defined as two adults living together continually, in a private heterosexual or homosexual relationship similar to married people. Cohabitation is evidenced by the mutual assumption of marital rights, duties, and obligations which are usually manifested by married people, and which include, but are not necessarily dependent on, sexual relations.

Ohio

No. Alimony doesn’t end when the supported spouse remarries. The paying spouse must ask the court to modify or terminate alimony and show a substantial change in circumstances that was not considered for the original award. If the change makes alimony unreasonable or inappropriate, the judge can reduce or terminate support. A substantial change in circumstances can include any increase or involuntary decrease in the party's wages, salary, bonuses, living or medical expenses.

A supported spouse’s remarriage provides a strong basis to terminate alimony. Typically, the supported spouse’s financial circumstances improve after marriage, and the court will release the paying spouse from the obligation to continue making payments.

No. Cohabitation is not enough to terminate alimony. Paying spouse must file a motion to terminate support and prove cohabitation and a substantial change in circumstances. In Ohio, cohabitation is two unmarried people living together, for a significant time, while sharing day-to-day expenses—one partner must provide the other with financial support.

If a court determines that a cohabitant is financially supporting the supported spouse, the judge may reduce or terminate alimony.

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