After your divorce, you were ordered to pay alimony. You didn’t mind, because you understood its purpose. You even somewhat agreed with it. Today, though, you’re upset because you believe the money isn’t going where it should be. In fact, you know that your ex-spouse is living with a new partner, but she hasn’t reported it to the court.

At this stage, you want to see if you can stop paying alimony. You actually want to stop paying as soon as possible, because you don’t think it’s fair to continue paying for someone who is being supported by another person. What should you do?

Living with a new partner is a problem for your ex

When your ex-spouse decided to live with a new partner, that was the beginning of the end of her access to spousal support. You may not be able to completely eliminate spousal support at this point, but the judge is likely to see that there is less need for support if your ex is living with a new partner. If your ex-spouse gets engaged or gets remarried, then that should end your spousal support obligation in most circumstances.

Can you just stop paying or is there a protocol?

Never just stop doing what a court order asks. Instead, think carefully about how to reduce what you owe through proper channels. Your attorney can help you apply to reduce or stop alimony payments through a motion with the court. You should continue paying alimony until the court agrees that you can stop. If the court finds that your ex-spouse violated an order or purposefully did not inform you or the court about changes in circumstances, then the court may order the spouse to return some of the payments, though that is not common.

You can also reduce what you pay by seeking a reduction through family court due to your own circumstances. For instance, if you lose your job or have more expenses come up, you may be able to have what you pay reduced for a period of time.

Alimony is not intended to go to the other spouse forever, so it’s fair to ask for a reduction or to stop paying in some circumstances. Always remember that you need a judge’s approval to stop paying what you currently owe without facing legal penalties. Taking the right steps to end alimony will keep you in compliance with your court order.