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When does Alimony end?

How Long do you Have to Pay Alimony? 

When does alimony end? How long does alimony last? Questions pertaining to when alimony ends are some of the most frequently asked questions in divorce. After it is determined that alimony is necessary in a particular case, the court must determine how long the payments will continue for. In Georgia, it is very rare for alimony to last for life. Alimony payments are typically made monthly for a set number of years. When determining the length of alimony, the court will consider how long the marriage lasted. For example, a 30 year marriage is likely to result in alimony payments for several years. Likewise, a 7 year marriage is likely to to result in a short alimony time period if any at all. The length of alimony may be agreed upon pay the parties or it may be court ordered if the parties cannot agree. Notably, there are 3 scenarios where alimony can end early and terminate before the court ordered/agree to time period ends.

Can Alimony Terminate Early? 

Yes. There are 3 scenarios where alimony can terminate early. Regardless of the agreed upon/court order time period for alimony, alimony payments can still stop and end early if one of these three scenarios takes place:

1

Remarriage

2

Cohabitation

3

Death of Either Spouse

a remarriage that terminates alimony payments
Remarriage

If the spouse receiving alimony (the recipient spouse) remarries during the time period that alimony payments are supposed to be made, then the obligation to continue making alimony payments terminates. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part remarriage terminates the alimony obligation.

cohabitation and moving in together
Cohabitation

Another scenario where alimony can end early is cohabitation. Cohabitation refers to the receiving spouse moving in and living with a romantic partner. It's important to note that cohabitation does not require the automatic termination of alimony payments. Sometimes, cohabitation results in the length and/or amount of alimony being modified instead of terminated.

ex-spouse dies and terminates alimony obligation
Death of Either Spouse

Payments for alimony terminate upon the death of the receiving spouse since those payments were personal to that individual. Likewise, if the paying spouse passes away, alimony payments will terminate then as well. Be aware that there are a few scenarios where alimony obligations can continue even after death.

Making an Agreement for When Alimony Ends 

The court does not always have to decide the alimony amount and the length of time. These are things that the parties can decide for themselves in a formal agreement. Going to court and asking the judge to determine the amount of alimony and the length according to law, can be pretty expensive and time consuming. If the parties agree that alimony is required in their case, they can consider their need vs. ability pay and come up with their own fair and equitable amount and duration. It's not always easy to make an agreement because parties often don't agree - especially when it comes to alimony. This process is often made easier by experienced divorce lawyers. Experienced divorce lawyers can advise the parties on what is realistic regarding length and amount and help the parties come to a realistic, equitable agreement while saving time and money.

Proving Cohabitation 

Cohabitation of the receipt spouse with a romantic parter can result in the termination or modification of the alimony amount and duration. While this issue comes up frequently, many paying spouses find that they are unable to prove the cohabitation. Given that cohabitation can result is alimony being modified or terminated, the receiving spouse is not likely to tell you if they plan on moving in and cohabitating with a romantic partner. Further, your former spouse may even go so far as to hide their cohabitation to preserve their alimony award. Notwithstanding, there are a few questions you could ask and hints you could look for that might help you gather the evidence needed to prove cohabitation.

Additional Resources 

Proving cohabitation and determine the amount of alimony are two critically important related topics. Please feel free to read more about these related topics. 
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