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Why does remarriage end alimony?

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported the divorce rate in the state in 2022 was 4.1 per 1,000 people. While not every divorce involved alimony, some of them did.

Spousal support allows for monetary assistance from one spouse to the other after the divorce. The court may or may not set an end date for payments. However, in all situations, the law does state it ends if the receiving party remarries, but why does this happen?

The purpose of payment

The purpose of alimony is to provide financial assistance to the spouse who may have been economically dependent on the other during the marriage. It is essentially a financial safety net to help the recipient maintain their standard of living following a divorce and to avoid that person suffering economic hardship.

The problem with remarriage

Michigan law states remarriage ends the right to spousal support. This is in place for a few reasons.

When the recipient spouse decides to remarry, the dynamics change. Remarriage often signifies a change in the recipient spouse’s economic circumstances. The new spouse may have their own income and assets, and the financial dependency on the ex-spouse diminishes or even disappears. In this light, continuing alimony payments might seem unnecessary or unjust.

Furthermore, remarriage brings a return to a shared economic household. The assumption here is that the new marital union should provide a level of financial support and security.

Another aspect to consider is the ethical and equitable perspective. The primary purpose of alimony is to help the recipient spouse maintain their financial well-being while adjusting to the single life. When they remarry, they are no longer living single.

It is important to note that the termination of alimony upon remarriage is not a universal rule. Even though it is within the family laws of the state, an agreement between the parties could override the law. Some divorce agreements or pre- or post-marital agreements may explicitly state whether alimony payments should cease upon remarriage, while others may leave room for discretion. Nonetheless, the principle behind this common practice is often rooted in fairness and the intention to prevent double-dipping.