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My Ex Found Someone New: Can I Stop Paying Alimony in North Carolina?

For some spouses, moving on and starting a relationship with someone new is the top priority after a divorce. These individuals might not want to be alone for long periods of time, and they might depend on a new partner not just emotionally but also financially. How does this affect alimony in North Carolina? Surely if your ex is now living with someone new who is supporting them financially, you are not expected to continue paying alimony… right? 

The answer to this question can be complex, and it is best to consult an experienced divorce attorney in North Carolina for a reliable response. Our legal professionals can not only explain how and when spousal payments stop in North Carolina, but we can also help you move forward with the legal process. The exact outcome of your divorce will depend on your unique circumstances. This is why an initial consultation with your attorney is essential, as it helps you develop a strategy that fits your priorities and goals. 

Periodic Alimony vs. Lump Sum Alimony

If you have paid a lump sum alimony payment, you can only do a little about remarriage or cohabitation. Since you have already paid your alimony in a single lump sum, getting that money back is almost impossible. This is one thing you might want to consider if you are still deciding whether to choose a lump sum or periodic alimony. If you have selected periodic alimony, these payments may be stopped or terminated completely when your former spouse starts cohabiting with another individual. 

What is Cohabitation?

The exact definition of cohabitation is sometimes difficult to pinpoint in a legal context. In North Carolina, cohabitation is generally defined as two adults living together long-term. The relationship must be essentially identical to that of a marriage. It must be not only romantic but also financial in nature. For example, commingled assets are a clear sign of cohabitation. Both spouses might contribute to monthly rental costs for a home, or perhaps they both start making mortgage payments towards the same residence. Your former spouse might be financially supported by their new partner somehow. For example, the new partner might pay for their education costs as they go back to school and try to finish a degree. 

Proving Cohabitation

If you believe that your former spouse is cohabiting with a new partner, you need to prove that this is actually happening before your alimony payments stop. Sometimes, this is a relatively straightforward process. After all, the modern era is one in which people constantly share their relationship statuses on social media. Your former spouse might have shared pictures that clearly depict a marriage-like relationship on Facebook or Instagram. The key is to prove that these two individuals are living together. You might also want to show that these two individuals take vacations together and engage in other activities similar to that of a married couple. 

Once you have the necessary evidence, it is time to file a motion to terminate alimony in your local district court. Ideally, you will want to file this motion in the same court that granted your divorce. When the judge sees your case, they might ask your former spouse for certain financial information, such as evidence of past rental payments and mortgage payments. This information can conclusively show that they are indeed cohabiting and that assets have been commingled. 

Remarriage

If your spouse remarries, alimony payments also come to an end. Ending your alimony payments in this manner is actually much more straightforward, as the entire process is handled automatically. You will not have to attend court or file any motions. That being said, many spouses intentionally avoid remarrying because they want to keep the alimony payments rolling in. This is why proving cohabitation is often an important undertaking. 

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you have been searching the North Carolina area for a qualified, experienced divorce attorney, look no further than Arnold & Smith, PLLC. We have considerable experience with all matters related to divorce, including alimony. If you have been paying alimony for years, searching for an opportunity to stop these payments is understandable. If your former spouse is now being financially supported by someone else, there is no legal justification for these payments to continue. That being said, you still need the assistance of a legal professional in order to show the court that circumstances have changed. Reach out and book your consultation today.