My Ex-spouse Is Getting Remarried. What do I have to do to stop Alimony Payments?
Colorado alimony, properly termed “maintenance” under statute, is spousal support paid by one former spouse to the other. Alimony is paid pursuant to court orders, which will generally be specific as to both the amount (usually paid monthly) and the duration (usually a term of months or years). Pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 14, Article 10, Section 114, alimony generally terminates or ceases as a matter of law upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the recipient. Thus, once the forthcoming marriage happens, the duty to pay alimony goes away and cannot be revised. There are a few states which might allow remarriage to toll the alimony duty but still allow it to be revived if the second marriage also ends. Fortunately, Colorado is not one of them.
Though statute indicates alimony ends upon remarriage, there can be circumstances in which legal action may be required to fully stop payment and collection. For example, if the former spouse who is paying (the obligor) is being garnished from his or her pay, through an income assignment, the employer may not automatically stop the alimony payments without a court order indicating that the duty to pay has ended. Given that employers can suffer serious legal ramifications for violating an income withholding order, they are not just going to take the employee’s word and will need a court order. If a payor spouse is being garnished and learns the recipient has remarried, he or she should file a motion to terminate the maintenance and income withholding immediately. In that motion, a request for reimbursement of any proceeds paid out via the income assignment after the date of marriage should also be made. Motions to modify or terminate maintenance are going to be applied retroactively, pursuant to C.R.S. 14-10-122. As such, filing right away is important.
If the payor spouse is paying alimony directly to the recipient, as opposed to being garnished, he or she can stop the monthly payments without needing to take action with the court. However, there can be circumstances in which the former spouse receiving alimony gets remarried, but fails to informer the paying spouse. If the payor finds out about the remarriage after the fact, and has continued to pay, he or she should file a motion asking for reimbursement of anything paid subsequent to the remarriage. A Colorado divorce court is not going to reward someone for their deception and failure to report their new marital status.
Additionally, remarriage may not matter if the parties’ alimony is “contractual and non-modifiable” and they failed to include language regarding remarriage within that “contract.” During the divorce process, people may resolve their issues via a written agreement. When it comes to resolving spousal support issues people can agree that the the alimony is contractual and non-modifiable as to both amount and duration. When doing so, the parties are deemed to be locked into a contract, which cannot be modified by the court absent an agreement to do so. Given the contractual nature of the alimony provisions, the court will be bound to follow the specific terms. As such, if you are the payor spouse and are entering into a contractual/non-modifiable alimony agreement it is extremely important to make sure your Denver divorce attorney includes language indicating the support ends upon remarriage. If that language is not in the separation agreement, you could get stuck paying even after remarriage.