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Can I End Permanent Alimony (Spousal Support)

As part of the divorce process, the court may award an alimony (or spousal support) payment. Depending on the type of alimony awarded, this obligation could be permanent. The awarding of permanent alimony can be particularly difficult situation to accept and it certainly isn’t easy on you financially. The question becomes “is this alimony payment requirement really permanent?” The answer is “it depends.” Here we’ll discuss how to end permanent alimony.

Permanent alimony, as its name suggests, has no specific end. Therefore, determining if you can stop your alimony payments depends on two things: why the alimony was awarded to your ex and what has changed since it was awarded.

Alimony can be awarded for a number of reasons. Contributions to or sacrifices for the marriage have the most significant impact on alimony awards. If your spouse gave up educational or workplace advancements for your marriage, the court will likely award alimony, as it’s likely that your ex’s financial situation would have been better without the marriage. The court carefully examines the earning potential of you and your spouse, as well as the debt each party has incurred. Beyond this, the court will be pragmatic: who is going to live longer? These factors, and many more, influence a judge’s ruling in a divorce.

In awarding alimony, it’s likely that your judge listed one of the above reasons as to why it is being paid. Once you or your spouse experiences a change that invalidates the reason provided by the judge, it’s possible that you’re eligible to end your alimony payments. For example, if the judge cited that you’re financially prepared and your spouse isn’t, but you experience a traumatic injury that wipes out your retirement fund, this is new information that the court can use to terminate your alimony payments. Acceptable instances of the termination of permanent alimony usually are cases where unexpected events happen.

Whenever the receiving party remarries or enters into a supporting relationship, you should notify the court, as alimony may then be ended. A supporting relationship means that the spouse lives with another person and shares living expenses. If it can be proven that the receiving spouse is involved in a new supporting relationship, the paying party can petition to terminate alimony payments.

It is also possible to end alimony through closely reading any prenuptial agreements made. It’s very common for spouses to spell out the terms of alimony in prenuptial agreements. By combing through your agreement, if applicable, you might find that what would otherwise be permanent alimony has loopholes. For example, if the receiving party suddenly makes more than the paying party or if one party was unfaithful during the marriage.

Stopping alimony payments can be confusing. You should never violate your court order by stopping alimony payments yourself. If you believe you have a legal reason to reevaluate your alimony ruling, contact a licensed attorney at Goosmann Law Firm to help you file a petition.

Read more from our Divorce Lawyer on Your Side blog here