Spousal support after remarriage may be affected if the spouse receiving support cohabits with or marries someone else. However, this isn’t always the case. It depends upon the past and present circumstances of both ex-spouses and (to a lesser degree) the contribution of the recipient spouse’s new partner.
Re-partnering does not automatically end spousal support
As a rule, a support recipient’s second marriage or new common-law relationship does not automatically terminate spousal support. The exception to that rule is where an existing court order or separation agreement specifically says remarriage or cohabitation by the support recipient will end payments.
Application to reduce or terminate
While remarriage does not automatically end spousal support, it may be a “material change in circumstances” that triggers an application for variation of payments. In determining whether to reduce or terminate due to remarriage, the court will consider several factors. One important factor is the reason the spouse was entitled to receive support in the first place.
Impact of remarriage on compensatory spousal support
Compensatory spousal support is less likely to be impacted by remarriage. This type of support is designed to compensate the recipient spouse for the economic disadvantages brought about by the earlier marriage; for example, one spouse’s time out of the workforce to raise children. In determining whether to vary compensatory payments due to remarriage, the court will consider factors such as the length and economic impact of the first marriage, the recipient spouse’s age, the stability and length of the new relationship, and the current standard of living in the recipient spouse’s new household.
Impact of remarriage on non-compensatory or “needs-based” spousal support
Where the original entitlement was “needs based,” the same factors must be considered, but the effect of remarriage may be more significant. If the new partner’s income has diminished or reduced the support recipient’s financial need, it is more likely that the court will order a reduction or termination of monies payable by the ex-spouse.
After divorce and remarriage
This is a complex area of law. In many cases, original entitlement is both compensatory and needs based, making the impact of remarriage even less clear cut. The outcome of each case is highly dependent on the circumstances. We recommend talking to an experienced spousal support lawyer today to find out how the law applies to your situation.