During the divorce process, it is not unusual for the court to award spousal support (also known as alimony) to one party. Generally, this is a payment made to the spouse with the lower-earning ability to ensure that they do not become impoverished following the divorce.

Spousal support can be either permanent or temporary. That said, it is important to understand that spousal support can be terminated under any of the following circumstances:

Death of either party

It is a general rule of divorce law that spousal support payments are discontinued upon the death of either party. Thus, the payor’s estate may not be compelled to continue making alimony payments upon their passing. Likewise, the receiving party’s dependents cannot demand spousal support payments after their death.

Due to the sudden termination of spousal support payment following the payor’s demise, it is easy to tell how the receiving party can suffer economic hardship. To protect the payee from this kind of hardship, most divorce courts usually direct the payor to obtain life insurance and name the payee as the beneficiary to ensure that the financial flow does not stop upon their demise.

Remarriage or cohabitation

Unless there is a written agreement or a court order in place, alimony payment automatically ends when the payee remarries or cohabits with a romantic partner. However, unlike in the case of remarriage, the paying spouse must file a motion seeking termination of spousal support if the receiving party is in cohabiting with their romantic partner. Some of the evidence the payor may need to provide to prove cohabitation include proof of a joint mortgage or lease contract or a joint utility bill.

Spousal support, like child support, is never set in stone. Find out how you can petition the court to terminate your spousal support order.