EP 153: When does Spousal Support Normally End?


When does spousal support end? Whether you are going to be paying or receiving it, it is important to know. Most of the time, spousal support will not last forever. State laws vary, but they are relatively consistent about what conditions cause spousal support to end. It should be written in your settlement agreement; if not, consider adding these conditions in.

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Here are the five cases where spousal support ends:

1) When the recipient of spousal support dies. If the person receiving spousal support passes away, the support ends. It will not be passed along to a child or another party.

2) When the payer of spousal support dies. If the person paying support dies, support can end. That support may be essential to your livelihood, so you can find yourself in a very difficult position if you were receiving support. Two previous episodes of this podcast (58 and 91) discuss life insurance to cover any remaining support obligations. This is highly recommended for anyone who’s receiving spousal support.

3) When the recipient remarries or cohabitates with another person. If you are receiving support and you marry a new person, the support will end. In some cases, people try to get around this by living with a partner without marrying them. However, divorce settlements typically specify that if you live with a new partner for a certain amount of time, your support will end. This can be as little as 2 or 3 months or as long as a year of cohabitation. You may wonder how your ex-spouse will know if you are cohabitating. In some cases, the ex will hire a private investigator to find out.

4) When the payer of spousal support retires. When someone retires, they usually will not continue to pay spousal support. However, there are cases where you can end up paying support even after you retire. You can negotiate this in your settlement agreement, so think about this in advance.

5) When there has been a substantial change in financial situation for either party. If the person paying support loses their job for a substantial period of time or if they become disabled, they may be able to renegotiate spousal support. Conversely, if the person receiving spousal support suddenly receives a large inheritance, their ex may request renegotiation.

For many of these cases, you need to still know what is going on in your spouse’s life to some extent in order to know if you could renegotiate spousal support. You may not have any desire to communicate with your ex-spouse again, but you may want to informally keep up with what is going on in their life through acquaintances. If possible, it’s helpful to know if any conditions change that might affect the support obligations.

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Thank you for listening!

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA

Dallas, Texas

Shawn C. H. Leamon is Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, a firm that helps successful families manage large financial transitions like divorce, inheritance and selling a business.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College, double majoring in Economics and Philosophy, and his Masters in Business Administration at Spain’s IE Business School.

Before founding LaGrande Global, Shawn helped manage $1.1 billion in client assets at Bernstein Global Wealth Management. He also worked as a credit research analyst at J.P. Morgan. He is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and he has been an advisor to numerous high-stakes divorce cases.

Shawn is the author of two well-received finance books: Managing Private Wealth: Principles, and Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide, both published in 2016.

In his spare time, Shawn is an ultra-endurance athlete and has competed in events as long as 24 hours. He is an Eagle Scout and a member of the Alumni Board of Greenhill School.