Many people have the misconception that paying alimony is a form of financial punishment. Alimony is not meant to be punitive, but rather to provide your former spouse with equitable financial assistance needed to sustain the same quality of life that you both enjoyed while married. Alimony could be permanent or temporary until your former spouse can re-establish their life and career after your marriage.

Section 11-108 of the Code of Maryland affirms this, stating than an alimony obligation ends when your ex-spouse remarries or when the obligation produces an inequitable result. Your ex-spouse may think that they can get around this even after they have entered into a serious relationship with a new partner. By choosing to cohabitate and not remarry, they may believe that they can enjoy the best of both worlds: the financial support of a new partner as well as the alimony income they receive from you.

Does the law allow for this? Typically, if your ex-spouse enters into a supportive relationship but continues to receive alimony, this could be viewed as producing an inequitable result in your case. The burden of proving this falls to you. Elements that can support your claim to modify or terminate your alimony obligation based on your ex’s subsequent relationship with a new partner may include:

  • The extent to which they present themselves as a married couple
  • Whether or not they have comingled their assets
  • If they have engaged in significant financial transactions together

If the court believes that a financially supportive relationship does exist, it may find that your alimony order is no longer equitable, and the court may indeed terminate or reduce your alimony obligation.