While divorce is an exceptionally difficult process, it can also mean the beginning of a new life. With time, most ex-spouses adjust to their new reality and even venture out into the dating scene yet again. For those individuals who are receiving alimony (often called spousal support) from a former marriage, the process of navigating new relationships and even considering eventual remarriage has important financial implications that all Iowans should consider.
How Is Alimony Modified?
Alimony is typically received in one of two forms: as a monthly payment or a lump sum. For those that receive a lump sum, choices they make down the road have less significant consequences. For those who receive a monthly payment, that payment can be modified at a later date if a party so requests and can meet the burden of proof required for a change.
In Iowa, modification of alimony requires a showing that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. In some situations, showing a substantial change is easy. For example, if either former spouse dies, the alimony payments will be terminated. However, other situations are more challenging. A spouse may feel that he or she needs more money in order to make ends meet or support new career opportunities, while another may feel that he or she is paying too much and the payments should be diminished because the former spouse is back on his or her feet.
Sometimes, entering into a new relationship can be grounds for a substantial change in circumstances and place alimony payments at risk. In addition, the order for support may specifically state that remarriage or cohabitation may terminate the support obligation.
Dating, Remarriage, and Alimony
In Iowa, simply reentering the dating scene won’t usually threaten alimony payments. Unless the paying spouse can show that the supported spouse is benefiting financially from the new relationship, the paying spouse is unlikely to be able to prove a substantial change in circumstances simply because the supported spouse has resumed dating.
However, if you are receiving alimony and you decide to move in with a new partner, this does create more substantial risks. The simple act of co-habitating with another may not mean that your alimony will automatically be cut off, but it can give your former spouse a basis to request that alimony payments be diminished even if the support order is silent on the issue.
For example, he or she may be able to show that you now have a partner who is helping to pay half your bills, or paying for your children’s schooling, therefore reducing your need for spousal support. While not true in every circumstance, if your former spouse can show a significant change in your financial picture as a result of your new relationship, this may be enough to reduce your alimony.
If all goes well and you end up considering a second marriage, you may be surprised to learn that this does not automatically terminate your spousal support in Iowa. Unlike many states, spousal support in Iowa can continue after remarriage, but requires certain showing be made.
After remarriage, the former spouse who is paying you support can file a motion to terminate support based on the new marriage. The judge will then consider whether you can show that you have a reasonable need that justifies support. For example, perhaps you have a special needs child who prevents you or your new spouse from working full-time.
Continued support after remarriage is rare, but it can happen when the circumstances are right. If you are considering getting remarried but worried about losing alimony payments, you should talk to an attorney.
Caring Iowa Family Law Attorneys Helping You Protect Your Support Payments
If you are in the midst of a dispute over whether your alimony payments should be reduced or terminated based on your new relationship, you need an attorney who can aggressively defend your needs in court.
Qualified family law attorney Jonathan D. Schmidt can help you fight back against misrepresentations that your financial circumstances have substantially changed, and protect your right to support. To find out more about how he can help, contact us online or at (319) 423-3031.