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Should Maintenance or Alimony Continue Upon a New Relationship?

Alimony falls under a couple of different categories in the event of a divorce, and it usually is determined with two things in mind: The income of both spouses independently and the duration of the marriage. Alimony is much more likely to be awarded if the marriage has lasted a longer period of time (usually 7 years), but there can be some form of alimony no matter how long the marriage lasted. For example, someone might get something called durational alimony. This is alimony that is paid out for a specific period of time, or they might get permanent alimony if the marriage lasted a very long time. What constitutes a long time is pre-determined by the law and varies by the state you were married in.

The question we’re looking at today is whether or not maintenance or alimony continues when you enter into a new relationship with another person. Naturally, an ex-partner may want to discontinue support if you’re dating or married to someone else. New York Domestic Relations Law Section 248 (DRL 248) covers the answer to this question and this is the section your lawyer will use to handle your particular situation. We assume that you’re either thinking of getting into a new relationship or marriage, are currently receiving alimony, and now you want to know if your alimony or maintenance schedule will be affected. Let’s see.

Prior to January of 2016, the terms “Husband” and “Wife” were used in legal regards as to where now things have changed to “Payor” and “Payee,” as a reflection of the fact that same-gender marriages now exist. Also, in the old days a husband was the only one making alimony payments, whereas now the Wife may also be making alimony payments. Times have certainly changed, and it’s good that New York law is now up with the times.

As for the answer to your question, a new marriage will certainly terminate alimony or maintenance payments, but it will NOT terminate child support payments. This means that your ex-spouse will not have to make alimony payments anymore, but they must continue making child support payments if your child is under a certain age. What about if you’re simply dating someone else? This makes things a little more complicated. Generally if you’re LIVING with the person you’re dating, your ex-spouse can make a request to discontinue alimony or maintenance payments. Under the law in New York, living together with a new significant other is called “cohabitating.” It’s a common thing in the present day, as many people prefer to live with a potential marriage partner before actually marrying. You’ll find these rules in DRL 248.

After your divorce, you would have had an agreement that put forth the rules for discontinuing alimony, but that doesn’t mean if it’s not in there your ex-spouse can’t still request to discontinue alimony if you’re living with someone else now since the divorce. An example agreement would be that if you live with an unrelated member of the opposite sex for more than 90 days, just for example, maintenance terminates for the reason of cohabitation. Your new partner is helping pay your bills now, and therefore your ex-spouse has grounds to stop providing financial support to you. Even without the agreement, though, your former spouse can definitely make a request to discontinue payments. If they do not, those payments will continue, but this might not mean that payments are terminated. That’s because the default law, held in absence of any agreement, holds that you aren’t just living with a new partner but that you hold yourselves to be something akin to “husband and wife.” Arguments here can be made strongly to still keep the support payments going, and that’s where your new lawyer will serve you the best. It’s their job to argue that you and the new partner do NOT hold yourselves out to be “husband or wife” and that this is a temporary arrangement as far as the either of you knows. If support is terminated, it could be detrimental to you in the event that the new relationship fizzles out (as often happens when first dating after a divorce).

SPODEK LAW GROUP is a law firm committed to protecting your spousal support payments. We’re capable of defending you against accusations that you’re co-habitating (sometimes you’re just not) or against claims by an ex-spouse that you and a new partner hold yourselves to be something like husband and wife (an arrangement that gives you a new form of support by an entirely new person). We’ve been helping clients for years and years now, over 40 of them, and our experience allows us to successfully help people keep their spousal support payments. We’re also capable of helping people who have an ex-spouse who is cohabitating and who want to stop making spousal support payments because of this situation. We’re capable of defending either side based on evidence and our strong knowledge of the law. Another important part of our job is making sure that the agreements in the end of a divorce are very clear about the conditions that will terminate spousal support payments so that no confusion exists later on. We can make things clear in the divorce agreement so that you don’t have to battle a situation later on in court and so both spouses feel like they know what the rules are and what occurs if certain things happen after the divorce.

As dedicated divorce lawyers, we’ve seen just about everything over the years. Your situation is probably no different or more complicated than what we’ve successfully battled for on behalf of our clients these last 40 years. Call us today to schedule a completely free consultation to discuss spousal support arrangements or if you are fighting for or to terminate spousal support payments. We’ll be here to use our knowledge of the law to get you the results that are best for you and your family. Call us today.