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When does spousal support end after a divorce?

Spousal support, often known as alimony, is a regular payment made from one ex-spouse to another following a divorce. In North Dakota, the courts may order spousal support as part of a divorce settlement to ensure the lower-earning spouse maintains a reasonable standard of living. The question that often arises is when exactly this obligation ends.

The termination of spousal support depends on a variety of factors including the type of support awarded, the length of the marriage and specific circumstances related to each individual. Understanding the guidelines set forth by North Dakota law can help you navigate this aspect of your divorce.

Type and duration of spousal support

In North Dakota, spousal support comes in three forms: rehabilitative, permanent and reimbursement.

  • Rehabilitative support. This is usually short-term and helps the recipient spouse become self-supporting. The duration is typically tied to the time needed for the recipient to get the necessary education or training.
  • Permanent support. This is less common and is usually awarded in long-term marriages where one spouse cannot become self-supporting due to age or health issues. This type of support continues until the recipient remarries, either party dies or the court modifies the order.
  • Reimbursement support.  This compensates a spouse who contributed to the other spouse’s education or career advancement during the marriage. It ends when paid in full.

The type of support awarded plays a significant role in determining when it ends.

Changing circumstances

Life changes can lead to the termination or modification of spousal support. If the paying spouse can prove a significant change in financial circumstances, they can petition the court for a modification or termination of the support order. Similarly, if the receiving spouse significantly increases their income or cohabitates with another person, it may also lead to a change in the spousal support arrangement.

Remarriage or death

Spousal support ends if either the paying or the receiving spouse dies. In addition, if the receiving spouse remarries, the paying spouse’s obligation to pay spousal support typically ends.

Every situation is unique and the specific terms of your divorce decree will determine when and how spousal support ends. Understanding when spousal support ends can help you plan for the future.