What Happens When Your Ex-wife Remarries?
It happens fairly often: The ex-wife of a New Jersey man or father remarries and I get a call from him asking what impact this will have on the spousal and child support payments he has been making under the terms of their divorce. Child support continues until the age specified in the settlement or decree. Sometimes that is age 18, sometimes it is not until the children complete their education.
Regardless of how many times your ex may walk down the aisle after your divorce from her, the children you planned to raise together when you were a couple remain your responsibility to care for financially as well as emotionally. Their step father has no legal obligation to contribute anything, financial or otherwise, to their care and upbringing. The question of spousal support, often called alimony, can be a bit more complex.
Spousal Support and Divorced New Jersey Men
Most of the time, if you have been paying support to your ex the requirement ends on the day she ties the knot. But if you get married again, you must continue to pay support to your former wife. The new wife may not be happy about part of the household income going to your ex but the law requires that you do so.
The purpose of spousal support in New Jersey divorce law is to help smooth the transition to help ease the lower earning spouse into a new phase in life. When we are negotiating the terms of the settlement and financial arrangement, we look at a number of factors such as her education and future earning capability, the respective ages of you and your ex, and the lifestyle she enjoyed while you were married. For example, we once represented a man who was divorcing a woman who had an MBA but quit her job a year or two into the marriage to become involved in charity work. She and her attorney insisted that our client pay substantial spousal support for years into the future. As a result, we ended up in court because her position was unfair.
At trial, we explained to the court that the wife had a six-figure income while working and that her experience coupled with her education meant she could expect to find new work in a year or less. Over the objection of the wife’s lawyer, the judge agreed. She limited spousal support to 12 months, saying: “This court will not require the husband to take care of his former wife indefinitely simply because she does not want to return to a paying job.”
Support Payments for New Jersey Men Who Only Lived with Their Ex
In the case of a couple that lived together but were not married, it is much trickier. New Jersey law does not recognize “common law” marriages unless the couple began living together in a state before moving to New Jersey where they are legal. But the couple’s living situation needs to meet the definition of their previous residency sate. So, for example, if that state requires a couple to live together as man and wife for one year before accepting them as being in a common law marriage but they’d been together for just 11 months when they split in New Jersey, a court here would be hard pressed to justify awarding “palimony” to either spouse.
However, if they have a child as a result of their co-habitating or simply because the woman became pregnant, it’s a different story entirely. Regardless of the marital status of the couple or where the child was born, in New Jersey the mother and father are responsible for supporting it. As divorce lawyers for fathers in New Jersey, we would seek to negotiate a financially equitable arrangement that is in the best interests of the child or children as well as obtain what the father wants in terms of custody and visitation.
If you have any questions about spousal or child support payments if your ex remarries, feel free to call me or any of our firm’s divorce lawyers for men and fathers in New Jersey even if we did not represent you in your original action. Reach us at 973.562.0100 in Nutley or, in Montclair, at 862.245.4620.