Ex .. tread carefully in ending alimony


            Posted on Dec 22,2013       

            Ex must tread carefully in ending alimony  

Q.    I was divorced in 2007.  I have been paying alimony and covering my ex-wife on my health insurance since then.  She got more than me when we divided our assets because she is older than me, including our mortgage free home in Carlisle.  I have been renting a small apartment in Charlestown since the divorce.  I will be 66 on Jan. 1"“ meaning I should get to stop paying alimony.  I am still working and I plan to continue because I want to be able to save enough so I can retire and buy a home in Arizona. 

Can I just send my ex-wife a note telling her that my December payment was the last one she will get and then stop paying?

 M.M., Charlestown


A.      You can certainly send the letter and see how she responds.  But unless you want to risk being on the wrong end of a complaint for contempt for failure to pay alimony, you should send another check January 1st.  In the letter to your ex put her on notice that you intend to request that the court permit you to stop paying as of Jan 1. 

In the letter to your ex put her on notice that you intend to request that the court permit you to stop paying as of Jan. 1.  Tell her to put the money aside because you are going to ask the court to order her to pay it back. 

Because you were divorced before the new alimony law was on the books, you do not get to just stop paying when you reach regular retirement age "“ you have to ask the court for permission.  You can expect your ex-wife to argue that you should have to pay alimony until you stop working.  Because your assets were divided disproportionately, you stand a better chance of getting the judge to stop the alimony now.  This is especially so where your ex lives in a mortgage free home and you are still working so you can afford to retire and buy on.

You should file a complaint for modification asking the court to terminate your alimony, health insurance and any life insurance obligations to your ex now that you have reached regular retirement age.  You should request the order be retroactive to the day you serve her with the modification complaint.  At the same time you file the complaint, you should file a motion asking the judge to stop these obligations.  Get a hearing date on the judge's calendar. 

Then try to find an independent third party to serve the complaint, summons and motion on your ex-wife on January 1st or just after.  If you cannot get her served on January 1st you can also ask you're your January payment be pro-rated to the date she is served.

Nothing in life is guaranteed but you are the classic case of why the alimony reform act was signed into law.