Spousal support may be necessary after the end of a marriage or relationship where one of the partners was more involved in generating a larger portion of the family income.
It provides a fair balance while both parties adjust to their new lives and prevent people who relied heavily on their partner for financial stability from losing the lifestyle they were accustomed to.
Time goes by however and life goes on. It may be that after a few months or years then either or both partners find someone new. Does spousal support have a time limit? Does it end at the beginning of a new relationship, or is it ongoing?
Spousal support helps to recognize and adjust for any financial consequences resulting from the breakdown of a relationship. Naturally, the final amount will depend on how much one partner relied on the other and whether or not there were children involved. This is known as non-compensatory support.
Support can also be provided as compensation for money lost due to being out of the workforce. If this is the case, it follows that this compensation would continue into the new relationship. This is known as compensatory support.
If the primary purpose of the spousal support payments is needs-based, whereby the support is provided in order to maintain a standard of living, then it is possible for this to be removed once a new relationship starts. The new partner will essentially now be responsible for financial support. This is not automatic though and will be heavily dependent on the wording of your separation agreement or court order.
But as mentioned above, if the support is given based on compensation for being out of the workforce, then a new relationship may not affect this.
Situations change over time. If the life circumstances of either the payor or the payee are significantly different, either because of a lost income source or a new development in life, then it is worth revisiting the terms of the agreement with your family law lawyer.
Ultimately, the goal of the legal system is to provide a fair and equitable system that ensures both parties can continue with life after the termination of the relationship. Since every situation is different, it’s hard to assign a simple “yes” or “no” answer to most questions related to divorce; taking the time to talk to a family law lawyer at Epstein & Associates about your concerns is a great place to start.