Statutory Termination of Spousal Support: Remarriage vs. De Facto Remarriage.
Under Virginia law, there are a number of ways in which your right to spousal support or alimony can be terminated. Two of the ways include: (a) you remarry, or (b) you have been in a relationship with someone that is analogous to a marriage for one (1) year or more. This is referred to as a de facto remarriage. The logic behind terminating spousal support is that under the scenarios above, the law presumes that you now have and enjoy the financial assistance of your new spouse or de facto spouse. You may also find it interesting, that alimony payments actually terminate under the above circumstances.
According to Section 20-109(D) of the Virginia Code, your right to spousal support automatically terminates upon your remarriage, unless otherwise agreed-to by you and your ex-spouse in a contract, separation or marital settlement agreement. Under the statute, you have an affirmative obligation to inform your ex-spouse, in writing, of your remarriage at their last known address.
On the other hand, pursuant to Section 20-109(A) of the Virginia Code, the court must terminate your spousal support upon clear and convincing evidence that you have been cohabitating with someone in a relationship that is analogous to a marriage for one year or more; unless: (a) you and your ex have an agreement or stipulation to the contrary, or (b) you can demonstrate—by a preponderance of evidence—that termination of alimony would be “unconscionable.”
Your spousal support will terminate as of the date of your official remarriage, which you must notify your ex-spouse about. For de facto remarriage, your alimony will terminate as of the date your ex-spouse files a petition to terminate your support – if he or she can prove that you have, in fact, been in a de facto remarriage. You have no obligation to inform your former spouse that you have been in a de facto marriage.
It is also difficult and time consuming for your ex-spouse to make a case for termination of spousal support based on your de facto remarriage. Not only will your ex-spouse have to learn of your new relationship, he or she will have to keep tabs on this relationship to ensure it has lasted for a year or more and gather clear and convincing evidence of such. Then, he or she will still have to file a petition to terminate your support.
If you have been served with a petition to terminate your spousal support, would like to file one because your ex-spouse has remarried or you believe they are in a de facto remarriage , you should speak with a qualified family law attorney at the DiPietro Family Law Group. Our attorneys can review the facts of your specific situation and will fight for your rights and the outcome you desire. Call us today to schedule a consultation at (888) 530-4374.