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Will My Alimony Stop if I Remarry in Louisiana?

It is hard to go through a divorce. There are emotional repercussions, as well as financial consequences. The issue of alimony often arises in the process of a divorce. Alimony, sometimes called spousal support, refers to payments that one ex-spouse is legally obligated to pay the other either during a divorce or after a divorce. The court may order spousal support when one ex-spouse needs financial help to meet their essential needs while adjusting to their new economic circumstances during the divorce. It is based on the needs of the person requiring the support and the circumstances of the payer. In general, spousal support ends upon the remarriage of the recipient spouse, the death of either party or a judicial determination that the recipient spouse has cohabitated with another person of either sex in the manner of married persons.

The purpose of alimony

Alimony is a frequently disputed issue. Its primary purpose is to minimize any unfair financial consequences of the divorce. Each divorce is unique, but alimony can provide a source of financial support for the recipient spouse, help them maintain a reasonable standard of living, or obtain the education needed to find employment.

Types of alimony

Louisiana law recognizes two types of alimony: interim and final.  Interim support is spousal support that one spouse pays to the other during the divorce process. A key factor is the standard of living that was present when the marriage was intact. The goal is to help both parties maintain their present living conditions as much as possible. It ends when the court makes a final judgment regarding spousal support or 180 days after the divorce is concluded, whichever comes first.

Support may also be available to the recipient spouse after the divorce. Final periodic spousal support means that the paying ex-spouse must pay support which ends when necessary, or when one of the spouses dies, or the supported spouse remarries.  This type of support is intended to provide the spouse with a lesser financial situation the necessities of life after divorce. In Louisiana, guidelines include that the party to be awarded support is free from fault in the failure of the marriage, and they do not have the means to support themselves. It is important to note that it does not matter whether or not the paying spouse was at fault. Only the spouse in need must be able to establish that they are free from fault. If the spouse in need is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the court may allocate some income above the person’s actual income.

Modification of alimony orders

The court can review spousal support orders if either spouse can prove a meaningful change in the circumstances of one or both parties since the previous spousal support order. The judge will review the award and determine whether it is still reasonable and appropriate for both spouses. If not, the court can modify or terminate the payments. The subsequent remarriage of the payer spouse does not constitute a change of circumstance.

Within three years after the final divorce decree, a spouse who was not at fault may also request the court to make changes to, or amend, the final decree in a way that adds support where there was originally none.

Does cohabitation affect alimony?

A court can also terminate support if it finds the supported spouse is cohabiting with a third party in a conjugal or “marriage-like” relationship.

Some alimony is not affected by remarriage

The effect of remarriage depends on the type of alimony. Remarriage terminates periodic alimony. In some cases, the parties agree to a “lump sum” alimony as part of their divorce. Basically, lump sum alimony is a type of contract. The payer gives a specific amount of money to the other party as payment of alimony or its equivalent in one lump sum payment rather than through periodic payments made over the course of a period of time. Negotiating these payments can be tricky because the current value of a lump sum alimony payment will probably be less than the total sum of the periodic alimony payments. In cases involving lump sum alimony, remarriage does not terminate the paying ex-spouse’s obligation. This type of alimony comes to an end per the terms of the agreement.

Once ended, can alimony be restarted?

Once terminated, alimony cannot be restarted. Therefore, the receiving ex-spouse must request a modification of alimony before the termination if they want to extend the alimony payments beyond the termination date.

If payments are made after remarriage, can the paying ex-spouse recover?

If a paying ex-spouse continues to make alimony payments and is not aware of the other party’s remarriage, that paying ex-spouse can file a petition to recover all alimony payments that were made after the date of the new marriage. Payments made before that date will not be recoverable.

Avoiding alimony disputes

Alimony can be a hotly contested issue in divorce proceedings. Therefore, it should be carefully negotiated, and the terms of alimony and any agreements concerning remarriage should be outlined in the applicable court orders. Strategies to reduce conflict include:

Stay calm. Tempers often run hot in a divorce. It is best to keep a cool head and remain calm. Keep blame to a minimum, focus on your own feelings and try not to ambush your spouse. If possible, avoid having these discussions in front of your children.

Listen. It is tempting to air every grievance you have, no matter how small. But listening to your spouse’s concerns will help both of you focus on resolving differences.

Be reasonable in your request. Although you want to negotiate a fair and just agreement, you may not get everything you ask for. You may need to compromise. Be honest with your attorney about your needs and expectations.  Make sure the terms you request are reasonable. Let your attorney work towards achieving your goals and reaching a mutually beneficial solution. 

Ending a marriage is always painful, and alimony is a challenging issue. Whether you are the paying spouse or the spouse who needs financial help, it is important to be clear and realistic about your situation both now and in the future. An experienced divorce attorney can draft an alimony agreement that anticipates future issues and establishes a structure to address them. For more information, call experienced family law and divorce attorney Betsy A. Fischer at 504-780-8232 or contact us online.

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