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How Does Remarriage and Cohabitation Affect Alimony/Spousal Support?

Updated on
January 12, 2021
Article written by
Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article, we discuss how remarriage and cohabitation affect spousal support and alimony payments. We answer the questions:

  • What are the different types of spousal support/alimony?
  • Do I still need to pay spousal support if my ex-spouse is cohabiting with another party?
  • Do I need to pay spousal support if my ex-spouse has remarried?

What are the different types of spousal support/alimony?

Spousal support (also known as alimony) are the financial payments one spouse makes to the other during and following a divorce. There are a number of different types of spousal support a court can award depending on circumstances. The three categories are as follows: 

  • Periodic/traditional: paid until the death of the payor, the receiver passes or the receiver remarries; 
  • Reimbursement: repayment to a spouse who helped with the partner’s educational or work training expenses; and 
  • Rehabilitative: paid until the spouse receiving payments is self-sufficient (able to financially provide for themselves). 

 

In Iowa, modification of spousal support requires a showing that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. In some circumstances, this is easy. For example, if the spouse passes, the alimony payments will be terminated. However, most other situations are far trickier.  Simply entering into new relationships do not immediately justify modification or termination of spousal support.  Other factors are necessary and need to be established in court to modify or terminate spousal support. 

 

Do I still need to pay spousal support if my ex-spouse is cohabiting with another party?

 

If a party receiving spousal support is engaged in a long-term romantic relationship and they share a residence, assets, and/or income, they are considered to be cohabitating. The establishment of cohabitation does not automatically end the receiving spouse’s alimony nor does it immediately justify modification. Rather, the paying spouse must go to the court and file a motion to either reduce or modify support. To get a modification or terminate support, the paying spouse must prove that cohabitation has occurred and the receiving spouse is financially benefiting from the cohabitation.  

 

Do I need to pay spousal support if my ex-spouse has remarried?

 

In Iowa, if the party receiving spousal support remarries, alimony will not automatically terminate. Some divorce decrees require alimony to continue even if the receiving spouse marries another person. However, should the divorce decree not address remarriage, either the paying spouse or receiving spouse may file a motion in court to modify or end support. 

 

If the receiving spouse wants continued spousal support after they remarry, they must provide reasonable and justifiable grounds for doing so. Otherwise, the spousal support will likely be terminated. If the court determines the spousal support should be terminated, the supported spouse may still be able to continue receiving payments if the new marriage is annulled or made invalid. 


How Does Remarriage and Cohabitation Affect Alimony/Spousal Support?
Author

Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty

Kevin O’Flaherty is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Chicago-Kent College of Law. He has experience in litigation, estate planning, bankruptcy, real estate, and comprehensive business representation.

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