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Will I ever be able to stop paying alimony?

If you have been ordered to pay spousal support to your ex, chances are the obligation is like a thorn in your side. Regardless of how amicable or contentious your divorce may have been, the fact that you are still linked to your ex (even if only financially) can make any person feel at least a little resentful.

If you are in this situation, you probably want to know how long you will have to pay alimony and what needs to happen in order to terminate your obligation. Unfortunately, there is no one answer because there are many factors to consider when it comes to ending alimony.

One of the most important factors to consider is what type of alimony you are paying. In Tennessee, spouses can be ordered to pay rehabilitative alimony, periodic alimony, transitional alimony or lump-sum alimony.

Depending on the type you are paying, your obligation could be terminated when:

  • Your ex becomes financially independent
  • Your ex adjusts to a lifestyle after divorce
  • A certain amount of time (set by the courts) has passed
  • Your ex remarries
  • Your ex passes away
  • Your circumstances change so much that you are no longer capable of paying alimony

If you or your ex has reached one of these points, you will want to discuss terminating your financial obligation. It won't necessarily happen on its own, so you should be proactive in discussing your options regarding alimony termination with your attorney.

One thing you should not do is to just stop paying alimony. Even if you disagree with a court's order, you need to comply with it. Failure to comply could get you into some legal hot water that only makes your situation worse. Rather than face contempt charges and fines for delinquency, it is recommended that you consult an attorney before making any decisions to suspend, modify or terminate spousal support payments.