In some West Virginia divorce cases, alimony may be agreed upon by both parties or ordered by the court. In either case, it’s common for questions to arise as the years pass. Both the payee and payor may wonder about the terms of their agreement and what warrants a change in amount or complete termination of alimony.
Remarriage is a major life change that often warrants a spousal support modification. Learn more about what West Virginia law says about this, and for more personalized advice regarding your divorce, call Hardy Pence at 304-407-7852.
Rehabilitative Support vs. Permanent Support
Spousal support is typically awarded to a lower-earning or non-earning spouse when their partner earns significantly more money. It’s a common solution when one partner was a stay-at-home parent or homemaker in order to support their spouse’s career.
There are a few main types of alimony awarded in West Virginia: rehabilitative, permanent, and spousal support in gross. Rehabilitative support is designed to be temporary, lasting only as long as it takes for the payee to become financially self-supporting. Payments generally last long enough to help the payee attend school or get enough work experience to support themselves. Standards vary, but a common rule of thumb I that one year of alimony is awarded for every three years of marriage.
The other type of spousal support is permanent. This is less common, as the courts generally prefer for the lower-earning spouse to become self-sufficient at some point. It is still awarded if the couple was married for a long time or the lower-earning spouse is disabled, in poor health, or otherwise unable to work.
Spousal support in gross means that the payee receives a fixed dollar amount—for example, $100,000. The payments are either split up over a set period of time until that amount has been reached or paid in full.
The type of alimony awarded in your case matters, because West Virginia law has different things to say about remarriage in each case.
What Happens When a Payee Remarries
In West Virginia, permanent support is terminated upon the remarriage of the spouse who receives alimony. This is relatively common across other states, as remarriage generally means a significant change in financial circumstances. If the payee receives rehabilitative support, the law is slightly different—they continue to receive spousal support as long as they are within the first four years of payments.
What about support in gross? Spousal support in gross is typically repaid in full, regardless of whether or not the receiving spouse remarries.
Your Next Steps If You Think Your Ex-Partner Has Remarried
What does this mean for your alimony case? It’s important to talk to your divorce attorney about your options if your spouse has remarried. What happens next will depend largely on what your divorce decree says and what type of spousal support payments you make to your ex-partner. If you pay permanent support or you pay rehabilitative support and you are beyond the four-year mark, you may be able to terminate alimony payments if they have remarried.
It’s also important to keep these laws in mind when you are negotiating alimony while writing your prenuptial agreement or negotiating your divorce. While alimony in gross may be an appealing option, you have to account for the fact that you’ll be required to keep making payments even if your ex-spouse remarries.
Alimony is a complex topic, and it’s crucial to talk to your attorney before doing anything. Terminating payments before you are allowed to do so could put you in contempt of a court order and result in additional legal issues.
Choose Hardy Pence to Tackle Your Spousal Support Problems
If you have questions regarding your alimony obligations, let the team at Hardy Pence help. Give us a call at 304-407-7852 or to set up your free consultation with our team of Charleston divorce lawyers. Whether you are in the beginning stages of a divorce, wondering about the terms of your alimony years down the road, or drafting a prenuptial agreement, let’s discuss your options.