ex took alimony for years after remarrying

            Posted on October 23, 2016 

Ex took alimony for years after remarrying

Q.   When I got divorced, I agreed to pay my wife alimony and child support, and to pay for my life insurance with her as a beneficiary. That way, if I died she’d have money to raise the children, put them through college, and have money to live on for the rest or her life. The agreement also provided that, once the children finished college, the life insurance would continue only if she did not remarry.

My ex resumed outside-the-home work when the oldest child started college. Now my ex is earning over $100,000 a year and has no mortgage on our former marital home. So I’m sure she can support herself.

Now I just learned, years after our children finished college, that nine years ago my ex married her longtime live-in male friend. My ex did not invite our children to her wedding ceremony, nor tell them or me about her remarriage. But she kept cashing my alimony checks. No doubt, if I died she’d have kept the insurance money, too.
What steps can I take now?

A.   To modify or end your alimony payments, you must prove there has been a material change in circumstances. Because your divorce occurred before the new Alimony Reform Act became effective, her getting remarried isn’t, by itself, enough to automatically end your alimony payments.

But remarriage is prima facie evidence of a material change in circumstances requiring the court to end alimony. Her only out is to prove there are extraordinary circumstances requiring you to keep paying alimony.

File two complaints, one to modify the Judgment, the other seeking equitable relief. But don’t stop paying alimony because you’ll end up on the wrong end of her complaint for contempt.

In the modification, claim your ex-wife: remarried; is able to support herself; and won’t become a public charge.

In the equity case, claim your ex: had an on-going fiduciary duty with regard to the performance of the agreement; she was obligated to tell you she remarried because she was named as your spouse in the life insurance policy; she was unjustly enriched by cashing your alimony check; she won’t become a public charge by making repayment; her failure to tell you about her remarriage demonstrates her lack of good faith; and that the probate court can use its equitable power to order restitution because its unjust for her to keep that money.

Because of her current income, outright ownership of the house, and a second husband who is presumably able to pay half of the housing and costs, I’d conclude you’ll get a full refund. If she fights hard, the judge should also order her to pay interest and your legal fees.

Another good thing your ex has done is to prove that the definition of avaricious does mean “money-grubbing”.