In Wisconsin, a divorce court can order that one spouse pay the other alimony, or spousal maintenance, during or after divorce. This is not a guarantee, and the amount and length of the order will vary according to the facts and circumstances of the case. Usually, the support is intended to compensate the lower-earning spouse for contributions made to the marriage and their partner’s earning capacity, the fact that they might have missed earning opportunities while contributing to the marriage, and because they need time to build their earnings. When someone receiving support starts a new relationship after divorce, he or she will probably want to know: What happens to my alimony if I remarry?
Alimony in Wisconsin
The court can review several factors when deciding whether or not to award spousal maintenance. These include facts such as the length of the marriage; each person’s ability to make a living; how long a person has been absent from the job market; custodial responsibilities for children; the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the person to find appropriate employment; contributions one made to the other’s education that increased his or her earning potential; and each person’s emotional and physical health.
Spousal maintenance is usually ordered as a temporary measure to give one spouse time to get the training or education they need to meet their own needs. However, in unusual cases, it can be ordered to last for the duration of a person’s life. This may occur when a person becomes disabled during the marriage and cannot return to the workforce, or when the marriage is of substantially long length.
Cohabitation and Remarriage
The spousal maintenance order will not necessarily be impacted when a receiving spouse moves in with a romantic partner. If your ex’s financial situation is significantly improved by cohabitation, a judge could consider this information and possibly reduce or stop his or her support. On the other hand, if your ex can show his or her new living situation does not change things in a meaningful way, your maintenance order could remain the same.
Unlike cohabitation, remarriage can be a reason to end support. Under Wisconsin law, a spousal maintenance recipient must notify the court and the paying party within ten days of his or her remarriage. Once told, the obligated party can ask the court to vacate the maintenance order. The parties can also request that the court terminate the order by agreement. If no one does anything, the order will remain in place under its original terms even if the receiving party is remarried.
If your former spouse is cohabitating with a new partner and in an improved financial position or contemplating marriage, he or she may be agreeable to ending maintenance voluntarily. An excellent place to begin is by discussing the situation with an experienced Wisconsin family law attorney who can help you review your options.