For those who are required to pay alimony to an ex-spouse after divorce, the question arises of whether that spouse must continue to pay if their ex-spouse has remarried or is cohabitating with someone else. In Georgia, the recipient spouse’s remarriage terminates the obligation to pay alimony unless the divorce decree specifically states otherwise. An exception to this rule is if the alimony is in the form of a lump-sum payment or transfer of property, in which case the obligation must still be met despite the recipient spouse’s remarriage. It is important to note that the obligation to pay alimony automatically terminates upon the spouse’s remarriage without the need for a court hearing. However, any unpaid amount of alimony due prior to the remarriage of the recipient spouse must still be paid.
If a recipient spouse cohabitates with a new romantic partner, the paying spouse must petition the court to have the alimony reduced or terminated. Alimony is not automatically terminated by cohabitation as it is in the case of the recipient spouse’s remarriage. Further, a court may, but is not required to, reduce or terminate alimony when the recipient spouse cohabitates. Also, a court can reduce or terminate alimony retroactively to the date the cohabitation began. It should be noted that cohabitation under Georgia law is living together continuously in an open relationship that is similar to a marriage (e.g., with sexual relations or the sharing of expenses). It is not simply dating or the periodic sexual encounter. If you have questions about how alimony is affected by remarriage or cohabitation, contact FLFattorneys at (770) 485-6633.