Alimony After Remarriage: Protect Your Wallet
I’m Tulsa lawyer James Wirth, and that is the question that we have, it sounds like it’s a question about spousal support, alimony and termination upon remarriage.
So if your spouse gets remarried, you have an order to provide spousal support, and they don’t tell you they’re remarried can you recoup what you paid after that date? And that comes down to a question of statutory interpretation. So I did pull up the statute, I’ve got that. It’s Oklahoma Title 43, Section 134, and that deals with spouse support payments and termination of them.
However, some of the language in there is less than clear in how it applies together, so I don’t know that I can give a definitive answer, but I can let you know what the law provides as far as statutorily. There may be additional case law that provides more insight because it does seem contradictory here and requires a little bit of interpretation.
So this is what it says. “Upon the death or remarriage of the recipient the payments for support, if not already accrued, shall terminate.” So it seems pretty clear cut. It orders that decrees for dissolution of marriage that have spouse support put in this phrase that says, “Upon remarriage or death the payments for support, if not already accrued, shall terminate.”
So first thing I want to note here is that this is what the law provides, the law does allow some flexibility. So if you’ve got an agreed decree that was entered the language in the agreed decree could deviate from the statute and could be enforceable. So you have to look at the decree and what it says regarding termination.
That said, most of the time the language in the decree is going to follow Oklahoma statute and says that upon remarriage or death, the payments terminate. So that sounds great, that seems favorably to position that you’d be able to go after them.
But then later on it notes, “Upon proper application the court shall order payment of the support terminated and the lien discharged after a marriage of the recipient.” So initially it says it shall be terminated, which makes it sound like it’s automatic, but then it talks about later in the same paragraph upon application, meaning that it may be the burden of the person paying it to file that application. And then it notes, “That upon application shall be terminated unless the recipient can make a proper showing that some amount of support is still needed, and that the circumstances have not rendered payment of the same inequitable.”
So it allows an opportunity for the recipient to say you know what, I still need spouse support even though I’m remarried, and the court can continue it on that basis. But then it notes the burden is on the person receiving to file for a hearing on that issue, to request a hearing to see if they can still receive spouse support within 90 days of such remarriage.
So in this case that you’re talking about 10 months has gone by, presumably she has not filed with the court. So my advice if I’m representing you and I want more specifics is I would look at the potential of filing a motion to find that the spouse support terminated as of the date of the remarriage because she did not file to have that extended within 90 days of the remarriage, request that money be recouped.
However, before actually filing it I would want to do additional legal research into case law to see what it provides regarding this kind of dichotomy where it says it shall terminate here, and then it notes that oh wait, no, you got a file to request that it terminate, and then the other side has an opportunity to say that they still need it so long as they make that request within 90 days. So that’s not a complete answer to your case but it does provide a little bit of information and a starting point regarding the statute.
If you are looking at potentially pursuing this you do want to talk to an attorney privately, confidentially to get legal advice specific to that scenario, and in this case an opportunity, a little bit of case law research on that. To get that scheduled with an Oklahoma alimony attorney at my office you can go online to makelaweasy.com.