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Colorado Legal Group

Does Remarriage Affect Alimony?

The law recognizes that one spouse may have to withdraw from the workforce in order to take care of the couple’s home or children. It also recognizes that during a marriage a couple becomes accustomed to a certain standard of living.

If you’ve been paying alimony to an ex-spouse in Colorado and he or she remarries, how does that affect the bi-weekly or monthly payments you make?

Do you still need to make alimony payments to an ex-partner from a common-law relationship even if he or she cohabits with a new partner?

In Colorado, the answer to these questions depends on the type of alimony you have been paying as well as several other important factors.

Types of alimony

In Colorado, spouses are expected to financially support each other during the marriage.

The law recognizes that one spouse may have to withdraw from the workforce in order to take care of the couple’s home or children. It also recognizes that during a marriage a couple becomes accustomed to a certain standard of living.

In the event of a divorce, this can count against a spouse who has not been working. Those who have been working part-time or who earn considerably less than the other partner (even if they are employed full-time) may also find themselves at a financial disadvantage.

Colorado law ensures that ex-spouses are not be left in economic hardship as a result of the separation. 

During divorce proceedings, a judge will want to be assured that both spouses have the resources to support themselves upon separation. 

Therefore, payments from one party to the other can be ordered by the court in the separation or divorce settlement.

The term “alimony” is actually no longer used in Colorado. It is called “spousal maintenance” and it is usually paid on a monthly or bi-weekly basis.

However, in addition to such regular payments, there are two other types of spousal maintenance, namely:

  1. A one-time lump sum payment
  2. A one-time transfer of property

Generally, if an ex-spouse makes a one-time payment, no further regular payment obligations apply after this is paid.

The matter is closed and, for this reason, it is sometimes the preferred option in the divorce settlement.

Does alimony end after you remarry? 

With one-time payments of spousal maintenance, the remarriage of the receiving party does not affect the payment. 

No reimbursement is necessary if payment has already been made and it does not cancel the order if it is yet to be finalized.

However, with regular alimony payments, the story is different. Remarriage of the receiving party will result in the termination of the need to make alimony payments.

If you make regular payments directly to your ex-spouse, you can simply stop making the payments from the date of their remarriage. There is no need to hire a lawyer or make an application to the court.

However, in some cases, wage garnishment from an employer arranges payments to an ex-spouse. 

If this applies in your case, you can inform your employer of the remarriage but, in most cases, employers want to see proof of this. This will require a formal court order for payments to stop.

It’s worth noting that periodic payments of spousal maintenance can stop in two instances other than remarriage of the receiving spouse:

  1. A court order formally ends it, or
  2. Either spouse passes away

The first of these rarely happens, unless the spouse receiving the alimony payments gets a high-paying job that negates the need for support or there is a major negative change in the financial circumstances of the paying spouse.

Are there situations where alimony continues after remarriage?

There are a couple of notable exceptions to the general rule that spousal maintenance payments stop when the receiving party remarries.

For instance:

  • The presence of a prior agreement specifically stating that spousal maintenance cannot be modified even after remarriage
  • When the payor is unaware of the remarriage or the option to stop making payments after the remarriage of the receiving party (you may be able to file a motion with the court for reimbursement of payments in this instance)

Do the same rules apply in common-law relationships?

If you are involved in a common-law relationship in Colorado, you share the same rights as a married couple. 

The same rules also apply to spousal maintenance during and after a separation or divorce. 

If you are currently paying alimony to an ex-spouse from a common-law relationship and they either marry or enter into another common-law relationship, you are legally entitled to stop making payments.

There are possible complications with this. For instance, when does cohabitation constitute a common-law marriage?

It is possible for an ex-spouse to claim that your cohabitation with another partner is grounds for stopping spousal maintenance payments because it is a common-law arrangement.

Need help with alimony arrangements?

Remarriages of divorcees happen regularly. It’s important to know where you stand with payments of alimony, whether you are the payor or the payee. 

If you are unsure about anything regarding spousal maintenance, you can discuss your situation in a free consultation with the divorce lawyers at Colorado Legal Group.