When Does Alimony End?

When Does Alimony End?

Spousal support, sometimes called alimony, is in reference to recurring monthly payments carried out by one spouse to the other when they get a divorce or are legally separated. Even though the laws and stipulations for alimony is going to vary by state, it is usually designed to assist the recipient spouse to gain financial independence for themselves.

These payments additionally help to guarantee that the recipient spouse is able to maintain the lifestyle they have become familiar with throughout the marriage or at any moment before they became legally separated or divorced from the supportive spouse.

In many cases, the spouse with the higher salary is going to usually be ordered to pay alimony to the other spouse. Simply put, whichever of the two is in a worse financial situation is going to generally be the spouse that is allowed to receive alimony.

A court might order alimony payments in any of the following situations:

  • When one of the spouses has an impairment or other medical ailment that prevents them from being capable of supporting themselves or getting a job;
  • When there is a considerable imbalance between the spouses in regard to their earning ability and salary;
  • When one of the spouses was required to quit their job to become a stay at home parent, whereas the other spouse was allowed to work and make a living; or
  • When one spouse helped in supporting the other spouse while they pursued an undertaking that is gong to lead to possibly receiving a increased salary (for instance when one spouse was working and the other studied for their BA).

It is important to remember, nevertheless, that alimony payments are not going to inevitably last for the remainder of the recipient spouse’s life. For example, specific conditions or situations might impact the amount they get. It can even cease spousal support forever if such payments are no longer required.

Lastly, if you are needing help with either ceasing or receiving alimony, you should get hold of a local family attorney or divorce lawyer immediately for additional legal advice concerning the matter.

Can Spousal Support End Early?

There are some cases in which a spouse might be able to end spousal support payments early. Once more, these term and stipulations are going to be subject on the laws of the state in which a request to cease spousal support gets filed. This can include the below:

  • If the recipient spouse has passed away;
  • If the income of the recipient spouse has considerably increased to the point they have either turned out to be self-sufficient or make more than the spouse paying spousal support;
  • When the paying spouse would endure economic hardship because to continually having to make payments at that amount;
  • If the recipient spouse get remarried or moves-in with another individual (this depends on exceptions based on the laws of different states);
  • When the recipient spouse has deliberately avoided landing a job or to become self-sufficient;
  • If the recipient spouse concealed assets, property, or other income to guarantee they would get alimony payments from the other spouse; and/or
  • When the spouse making spousal support payments has retired because of one of the following:
    • They are far beyond their age of retirement;
    • Their employer made them retire (for instance involuntary retirement);
    • The length and amount they have paid to the recipient spouse prior to them retiring;
    • Their overall state of health; and
    • if they deliberately retired to cease alimony payments earlier than expected.

What Can a Spouse Do to Cease Payments Early?

As mentioned above, the steps and overall method to end alimony payments early is subject to the circumstances surrounding a particular case and on the laws of a specific state.

In general, nevertheless, the paying spouse is going to need to acquire approval from a court prior to them being permitted to end alimony payments. They can start this proceeding by filing a court document referred to as a “petition for termination of spousal support” with their area family law court.

The paying spouse is also going to need to produce supporting documentation along with their petition, as well as the following information:

  • The reasons why they are filing a request to end spousal support payments earlier than what was initially agreed upon;
  • A recent earnings statement that reveals how much they earn in a certain period of time, the number of sources of income they have, how much they earn from each source, and where their primary source of income comes from;
  • A list that comprises of frequent expenses, discloses what those expenses entail, and the amount the expenses cost over a certain amount of time; and
  • Assorted other documentation that indicate a change in situation that would justify the court consenting to their petition.

Following the appropriate paperwork being filed and the court filing fees get paid, the parties involved is required to be served a copy of the documentation that were filed. Once the required legal procedures are finished, the court clerk is going to schedule a date for a court hearing in regard to the petition.

At the hearing, the court is going to listen to arguments from each party and examine any evidence that is going to help the judge in making a concise decision on whether spousal support should be terminated earlier than anticipated.

The judge is going to then issue a decision based on the parties’ disagreements and conclusive evidence. If the judge chooses to approve of the petition, the paying spouse is going to no longer be legally liable to make alimony payments to the receiving spouse.

At the same time, if the court rejects their petition, the paying spouse is then required to continue to pay spousal support to the receiving spouse like nothing has happened. The court may also determine to decrease, as opposed to totally reject, the amount of spousal support that the paying spouse is required to send to the receiving spouse every month.

There are also ways to avoid paying spousal support altogether, like:

  • The spouses had a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that rules out the other spouse from getting spousal support, or at a minimum, decreases the amount they are able to receive every month;
  • A spouse can demonstrate they make less money than the other spouse or are in a worse financial circumstance that is beyond their control (for instance incurable);
  • The paying spouse is able demonstrate that the receiving spouse has become remarried (subject to exemptions); and/or
  • In many states, how long the marriage lasted may impact spousal support payments. Therefore, when the duration of the marriage was particularly short, then a spouse might be able to avoid having to pay any spousal support to the other spouse.

Do I Need an Attorney for Assistance With Termination of Spousal Support Payments?

Matters or disputes concerning termination of spousal support payments can become very complex; particularly, if the spouses are reluctant to work together with one another. Therefore, you may want to think about hiring a local family attorney if you need help with terminating or impeding the termination of spousal support payments.

An experienced family lawyer is going to be able to help you adjust and prepare the necessary legal documentation that is required to request the court for a termination of spousal support payments. The lawyer can also counsel you on the best plan of action on the basis of your personal situation and can clarify your legal rights.

Furthermore, your lawyer can provide guidance on the probability of succeeding on a petition form terminating spousal support payments and can create a new plan beforehand should the court reject your petition.

On the other hand, when you are the recipient of spousal support, the lawyer can help you in creating a compelling case not to terminate alimony payments in addition to representing you on the matter in court.


    1. Wishnia, J. (2019, December 17). When does spousal support end? LegalMatch Law Library. Retrieved November 17, 2021, from https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/when-does-spousal-support-end.html.

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