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Termination/Modification of Support

Courts allow for the payment of alimony, or spousal support, from one former spouse to another following a divorce. However, the paying spouse can petition that the alimony payments be modified or terminated under specific circumstances. This includes a showing of a substantial change in circumstances, if the receiving spouse remarries or cohabitates with a significant other.


Remarriage and Alimony Payments

The paying spouse’s obligation to pay alimony ends when the other spouse remarries. The paying spouse is allowed to stop sending alimony payments immediately upon the remarriage of the other spouse, and returning to court for an official order is not necessary.

However, if the paying spouse owes back alimony payments those, must continue to be paid to the remarried spouse, regardless of marital status. In addition, if the family court ordered that alimony be made in a lump sum or through a transfer of property, that obligation still stands. Those types of alimony payments are not affected by the remarriage of the other spouse.


Cohabitation and Alimony Payments

Massachuesetts statutes define cohabitation as a dating or romantic relationship between two people who live together on a continuous basis. Under Massachuesetts law, alimony payments end if the receiving spouse begins to cohabitate with another person. However, unlike the remarriage of a former spouse, if the receiving spouse begins cohabitating with another person, the paying spouse cannot simply stop making payments.

The paying spouse must file a motion with the family court, asking that the alimony payments terminate because of cohabitation. Evidence must be collected and presented to the judge showing that the receiving spouse is, in fact, cohabitating with another person and not simply living with a roommate. Examples of proper evidence include photos, proof of a joint lease or mortgage, mail for both people going to one address, and personal items for one person being moved into the other’s home.


Significant Changes and Alimony Payments

The final reason that family courts will allow the modification or termination of alimony payments is through a showing of a significant change in circumstances by either former spouse. Both the paying and receiving spouse can request that the court review an alimony order for this purpose.

Modification can go either way for alimony payments. If the paying spouse’s income decreases significantly, there is a medical emergency, or some other issue drastically changes the financial situation, the court can decrease or terminate alimony payments. However, if the receiving spouse can prove that their needs have greatly increased or that the paying spouse’s income has greatly increased, the court can order that the alimony be modified to pay more.

If you want to modify or terminate an order for alimony based upon a significant change in circumstances, you must file a motion with the county clerk. At the court hearing, both you and your former spouse must appear and present evidence as to how the circumstances have or have not changed significantly enough to warrant a change in the alimony payments.


If you or someone that you know wishes to modify or terminate their alimony payments in Springfield or the surrounding area, let the family law attorneys at Goldsmith, Katz & Argenio, PC. help.

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