Spousal maintenance, which is often referred to as “alimony,” isn’t automatic in Texas, nor is it usually designed to last forever. How long you have to pay spousal support is limited largely by the duration of your marriage to a dependent spouse, unless that spouse has some substantial barrier that prevents them from being self-sufficient.
However, nobody wants to have to support an ex-spouse when that ex-spouse has already moved on and is in another relationship. If your ex-spouse has begun a romance with a new partner, shouldn’t your spousal maintenance stop?
What the law says about the issue
According to the law, an obligation for one spouse to provide their ex-spouse with financial support ends whenever the dependent spouse “cohabits with another person with whom [they have] a dating or romantic relationship in a permanent place of abode on a continuing basis.”
In effect, that means every case is fact-specific. For example, imagine your ex-spouse gets engaged to someone new. To you, this certainly seems like you should be relieved of your duty to continue providing spousal maintenance. However, your ex points out that they don’t intend to live with their new partner until after they’re married, which means that the situation doesn’t meet the legal requirements that would cause the court to act.
On the other hand, what if you’re pretty sure that your ex’s new partner has moved in with them? You do a little investigating and discover that their new partner has switched their mailing address to your ex’s home, and their car is there every morning and every night. Your ex insists that – since they aren’t married – it doesn’t matter, but the law sees it differently.
It’s great when a divorce lets you cut ties and move on without entanglements. If that’s not the situation, however, you need to be alert to situations that affect your rights and take steps to enforce them. If you believe that your ex is cohabitating with a new romantic partner, find out what it takes to get your support order terminated.