In the aftermath of a divorce, alimony is not just a monthly reminder of the painful process both parties have gone through: it can also signify a serious financial burden for the paying spouse, a burden that at times is unbearable and can hinder a person’s economic freedom from that day forward. However, alimony payments don’t last forever.
Duration of Alimony in Utah
We’ve previously explained how the alimony payment plan is determined by the court, as well as the steps to follow in the event that the payments are too high, but in this article, we will address some of the different laws in Utah which mention the termination of alimony payments.
Under Utah Code § 30-3-5(8)(j), it is clearly outlined that alimony may not be granted for a duration longer than the number of years the marriage existed. Let’s examine a hypothetical case in order to explain each specific aspect: Bob and Jean Smith have been married for five years, but they have decided that enough is enough. If they file for divorce, and the judge rules that Bob must provide alimony payments for Jean, then those payments could not be established to go on for longer than five years.
That is, unless, at some point, during that period the court decides that extenuating circumstances apply and that Bob must continue to provide those payments to Jean for a longer period of time. These extenuating or extraordinary circumstances must prove to be a severe disruption in the recipient’s normal lifestyle. A few common examples are termination from a job or a severe, life-threatening ailment.
Continuing with our example, if Jean were to be diagnosed with a serious disease that puts her life in peril towards the end of the established alimony lapse, then a judge could rule those benefits to be continued for an additional period, depending on the context of the situation.
Common Reasons for Alimony Termination
The Utah Code also states that, unless there is a specific clause in the divorce agreement saying otherwise, alimony conditions are automatically void if the recipient spouse died or remarried. Back to our example couple: if at any point during the arranged payment schedule Jean were to marry someone else, then Bob would be free from making any additional payments.
However, one more caveat must be made about this specific case: in the event that the remarriage is annulled and considered void from the beginning, the alimony payments shall be resumed, as long as the paying party is made aware of this process and that his or her rights are determined.
In the eyes of the law, once a former partner reestablishes themselves in a stable union like marriage, the need for support changes. The same legal point of view applies to a relationship where the parties are cohabitating (living together). Therefore, under Utah Code § 30-3-5(10), alimony benefits are terminated when it is established by the payor that the receiving party is living with another person following the divorce.
Were Bob to discover that Jean has been sharing a residence with another person whilst enjoying the benefits of the alimony payments, Bob has the right to request legal termination of that part of the agreement, in adherence to the aforementioned clause of the Legislature.
Going through the legal entanglements of a divorce and subsequent alimony agreements is not a simple task. Family law attorney Darwin Overson of Overson Law, PLLC is more than ready to go over the details with you, give you a serious assessment, and provide you with a possible course of action. To have access to our free and confidential consultations, you can call us at (801) 758-2287 and be prepared to handle any legal situation with the confidence of having experienced professionals on your side.